ALEC STEWART must have wondered what he had done wrong to deserve the last 24 hours. Surrey were knocked out of the NatWest Trophy, Michael Atherton was preferred for the England captaincy and then there was the Dexter revelation about the loyal support of his father, Micky, at the leadership selection meeting.
The son rose yesterday with bruised ribs and pride to find his bowling attack weakened by the loss of England's Martin Bicknell (left knee ligament problem) and Waqar Younis (groin strain). This pair have accounted for 101 wickets as Surrey have moved into third place in the Championship this summer.
It was understandable then that, having won the toss against Nottinghamshire, Stewart should elect to bat and put off the potential horrors of what might happen to his depleted strikeforce for at least another day.
He reckoned without Surrey's propensity for collapse. Darren Bicknell and Paul Atkins brought a little sunshine into Stewart's life with an opening stand of 59 before Bicknell fell leg before to Kevin Evans. Atkins, who at one point spent 43 minutes without scoring, stayed until after lunch before being caught by wicketkeeper Bruce French, having made 39 in two hours and 40 minutes.
Graham Thorpe was beginning to motor when he ducked a shorter delivery from Chris Lewis. Unfortunately for the England left-hander, the ball hit the back of his bat and he was comfortably held by French. Monte Lynch, who is sadly out of touch, did not last long either.
Stewart came in at 173 for 5, hung around for nine overs in making two before providing French with a third catch, and left with a clouded brow.
If it had not been for Alistair Brown's patient 60, which included two sixes and five fours, who was the last man out and gave French a fourth catch, Surrey would not have gained their solitary batting bonus point.
The Nottinghamshire heroes were the slow left-arm bowler, Andy Afford, who took a summer's best 5 for 64 and the seamer, Kevin Evans, who picked up his best haul of the season, 4 for 51.
Surrey's 228 in 84.5 overs looked pathetic. But not as pathetic as the 29 for 3 Nottinghamshire reached by the close. Tony Murphy and Joey Benjamin whipped out Mark Saxelby and Mark Crawley in the second and third overs respectively and, shortly before the end, Neil Kendrick's slow left-arm spin accounted for Paul Johnson - caught behind by Stewart. The son beamed.