Cricket: Storm brings respite

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The Independent Online
Surrey 476-8 dec & 167-2 Essex 425-9 dec Match drawn

With the first innings not yet completed, there was never the slightest chance that a definite result would be achieved on yesterday's final day. It came as something of a relief for players and spectators alike, therefore, when a fierce thunderstorm broke over Southchurch Park in mid-afternoon.

The day had begun with the sort of unfathomable mystery which is so peculiar to cricket. At 425 for 8, still 51 behind Surrey, Essex continued their first innings for two more balls, the second of which, bowled by Brendan Julian, Peter Such struck into the hands of short extra cover.

At this point, Paul Prichard declared, his hand forced by the fact that the last man, John Childs, was suffering from food poisoning. He was at the ground and would gallantly have batted in an emergency, but this was not deemed to be one.

So, by the time Surrey began their second innings, 15 minutes had evaporated and Essex were were 51 behind. After bowling five overs between them, at the only all-left-handed opening partnership in county cricket of Darren Bicknell and Mark Butcher, the Essex opening bowlers gave way to spin.

For the next 50 overs, Such, Paul Grayson (orthodox slow left-arm) and Stuart Law (leg breaks and googlies) wheeled away, changing ends from time to time. One never felt the players were doing much more than going through the motions until rain, which had caused three short hold-ups before the decisive thunderstorm, had the final word.

Bicknell flicked Law to Nasser Hussain at backward short leg when the score was 62 and Alec Stewart was caught off bat and pad at silly point off Such at 133. Otherwise, there was the chance to see Butcher play some nice strokes on both sides of the wicket as he continued what is being for him a splendid season, albeit in relatively uncompetitive circumstances. He faced 166 balls hitting one six and 13 fours in his 85 not out.

Only 43 deliveries were possible on the final day of Pakistan's opening first-class match against Glamorgan at Pontypridd, with rain depriving the tourists of victory.