Cricket: Suffering Warwickshire

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Warwickshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .88

Surrey. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .128-9

THE dark-coloured pitch, starting damp and remaining two- paced, will not be reported to Lord's but the batsmen ought to be. Martin Bicknell, at No 8 for Surrey, proved the point by top- scoring with 37 and causing considerable pain for Allan Donald.

Most seasons, Donald could clear out any tail but Surrey's gave him only aggravation, mostly with a blistered heel to add to Warwickshire's other injury problems. Dermot Reeve was suffering from a groin strain and Gladstone Small has a sore back.

Reeve batted first because the firm belief is that the pitch will assist the spinners. He called it a 'bizarre day's cricket. Not an 88 all out wicket but more of a 200 one.' Batting last could be a major difficulty, batting first has been already. So far, 10 wickets have fallen to catches at or close to the stumps. Tantalising deviation and the availability of swing throughout the day, lured batsmen lacking time in the middle in this season's reduced fixture programme into willow- dangling outside the off stump.

Surrey, with their ace paceman Waqar Younis - who returned 6 for 43 - and their predatory close catchers, would have become joint leaders with Glamorgan and Middlesex if the weather had allowed a full, final day's play earlier in the week. Andy Moles, with 29, held together Warwickshire before being fifth out at 57. Martin Bicknell and Joey Benjamin supported Waqar admirably, especially as he first had a groin twinge, then a hamstring strain in his other leg.

A mostly grey day was full of cricket shorthand: cameo innings, edges, a gaggle of close fielders in earnest conversation, lofted desperation shots and finally, four championship wickets in an innings for Small for the first time in two seasons.

The pitch, on the Members' Bar side of the ground, had been deluged by rain last week. Surrey were especially relieved to leave the field with a sound lead in the gloom when 14 overs were still scheduled to be bowled at 6.50pm.

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