Cricket / Sunday League: Bicknells' benefit

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The Independent Online
Middlesex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .172-6

Surrey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173-3

Surrey win by 7 wickets

THE NEW Sunday League, or so we are led to believe, is fun for all the family. Barring a characteristic piece of impudence from Alistair Brown, however, this tame affair fell foul of the Trades Description Act in almost every sense yesterday.

As a contest, Norman Cowans' benefit match was effectively done and dusted by the fifth over. With his 11th delivery, the ever-impressive Martin Bicknell had Desmond Haynes caught behind for a duck; with his 16th, he thrust Mike Gatting back and trimmed middle-and-off. With Mark Ramprakash suffering from a side strain, Middlesex's prospects of a comeback were slim.

The emerging Paul Weekes stuck fast for 32 overs, adding 97 with Keith Brown and finishing unbeaten on 66, his maiden Sunday half-century. That aside, Surrey did much as they pleased, the younger Bicknell prospering most, on an unresponsive pitch to take 3 for 18 from his allotted 10 overs.

Alistair Brown briefly relieved the torpor, at one stage picking up six boundaries in the space of eight scoring shots as Surrey ran up 71 off the first 15 overs, a hectic pace compared with the sloth that had gone before. After swatting 54 off 63 balls, there was a collective sigh of disappointment from a good- sized crowd when he was bowled giving Richard Johnson the charge.

Darren Bicknell proceeded in leisurely if assured fashion and by the end of the 31st over Surrey were only 30 runs shy of their target. Feeling, perhaps, for Cowans as the collection box was handed round, they spent the next 14 completing the job.

By then the slow handclap was in full flow and Monte Lynch's winning boundary was greeted with ironic applause. When games are as monochrome as this, coloured togs seem rather redundant.