Cricket / Sunday League: Defiant Botham entertains in vain

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Surrey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .205-9

Durham . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .169

Surrey win by 36 runs

CURRENT form may not make Durham the side to follow but there is something irresistible and slightly sad about Ian Botham's last season. While Durham lost by 36 runs, the great man gave the faithful in south London enough for them to remember him by in his last outing at The Oval.

Surrey decided to bat and after losing their first four wickets for 56, three of them to Botham, recovered to 205 for 9. Durham, contained by some excellent early bowling, only briefly looked as if they might come to terms with their target and were bowled out for 169.

Botham bowled his ration of 10 overs straight off from the pavilion end and finished with the splendid figures of 3 for 22. His vast experience told him exactly where to bowl and he managed to move the ball both ways in the air. With Simon Hughes also picking up an early wicket Surrey were 56 for 4 in the 13th over.

Their innings was put right by Monte Lynch and Graham Kersey who batted with great sense against bowling unable to live up to the start Durham had been given by Botham.

In reply, Durham quickly lost Graeme Fowler, beaten and bowled by Martin Bicknell's slower ball. Botham, his partner, was happy at first to progress with singles which he ran like a Centurion tank on the verge of going out of control before he hooked Joey Benjamin for a satisfying four.

But after 11 overs he had made only 10. Then came a glorious back-foot drive past cover off Benjamin - the stroke of the day - and next ball one off the front foot which went over cover.

Sadly that was it, for a yorker from Mark Butcher then bowled him all over the place and uncharacteristically he gave the stumps a healthy flick with his bat as he left. An announcement over the tannoy then thanked him for all he had done in his career and he left The Oval for the last time bat aloft, smiling and roundly cheered.

The Hampshire all-rounder Jon Ayling has been forced to retire because of a persistent knee injury. Ayling, 26, damaged the knee in a collision with the Sussex opening batsman David Smith during a pre-season friendly in 1989 and missed the whole of the following summer.