Cricket: Surrey are the big noise

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The Independent Online
Nottinghamshire 125 and 248

Surrey 604-4 dec

Surrey won by inn and 231 runs

SURREY showed just why they are riding high at the top of the Championship table with a comprehensive three-day crushing of Nottinghamshire. To be asked to score 400-plus to win a match is hard enough. To be invited to score 479 just to avoid an innings defeat, as Nottinghamshire were, verges on the sadistic.

It was certainly too much for a depleted Nottinghamshire batting line-up, missing Paul Johnson, Paul Pollard and Kevin Evans. To add insult to their injuries, Tim Robinson was forced to go to hospital at lunch after being struck on the forearm by a rising ball from Cameron Cuffy. The X-ray revealed no fracture but Robinson's enforced absence for most of the innings was a heavy blow, though he returned at the fall of the eighth wicket to complete a brave half-century.

From the start Surrey's acting captain, Graham Thorpe, was in no mood for charity. Although Surrey held a commanding lead of 392 overnight, they batted on for more than an hour. Darren Bicknell and Alistair Brown added a further 87 runs and piled up an impressive series of milestones along the way. Bicknell's graceful 235 not out, which took him nine hours 48 minutes, was his highest first-class score, his maiden double century and the highest total by a Surrey batsman against Nottinghamshire. Bicknell and the pugnacious Brown, who hit his second century of the season, put on 253 for the fifth wicket. Robinson began the awesome task facing his side briskly enough, courageously carrying on after Cuffy's blow when he was on 24. He had rattled up 39 by lunch but when he failed to reappear after the interval, the scoring rate slowed to a crawl. It was 2.50pm before the first wicket of the day fell. The victim was Wayne Dessaur, prodding the off-spinner Andrew Smith to silly mid-off. As so often happens after a long wicketless spell, another fell almost immediately, Jimmy Adams acquiring a pair two balls later.

Nottinghamshire's youngsters, Graeme Archer and Mathew Dowman, dug in pluckily against hostile bowling until Archer tried an unnecessary leg-side heave at Smith and was smartly stumped by Graham Kersey. Although he found runs hard to come by, the 20-year-old Dowman, in his maiden first-class match, played elegantly and straight. He and Wayne Noon added 60 for the fourth wicket before Tony Pigott trapped Noon leg before, the first victim of a six-wicket spell which knocked the stuffing out of Nottinghamshire.