Cricket: Surrey collapse in classic style

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Lancashire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .236

Surrey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .230

Lancashire win by six runs

ALLAN JONES, the third umpire in the stand, could scarcely believe his monitor here yesterday, as Lancashire beat Surrey by six runs in what deserves to be preserved on videotape as one of the finest examples ever of the snatching-defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory genre.

Surrey, requiring only 26 from the last six overs with nine wickets in hand, somehow managed to lose the lot for 18 runs. As collapses go, the Walls of Jericho aren't in it.

When Alec Stewart walked off for 95, bat raised to acknowledge the crowd's applause, Graham Thorpe was 103 not out, and those two had just put on 212 for Surrey's second wicket. However, Monte Lynch was then caught behind down the legside, Thorpe mistimed a pull to mid-on, and what happened thereafter beggared belief.

Surrey had reached their apparently impregnable position by playing what was as close to proper cricket as you can get in this type of combat, but they then remembered that this is not the way to go about things, and in half an hour of frantic slogs and non third umpire-assisted run outs, they were all out, six runs short of Lancashire's modest 237, off the final ball.

As for the third umpire experiment, as historic radio messages go, it was not quite in Marconi's league. 'Umpire one to umpire three . . . was he out or wasn't he? Over.' 'Umpire three to umpire one . . . er, haven't got a clue old boy.' 'Umpire one to batsman . . . Roger and not out.' Somehow, you get the feeling that cricket and modern technology are not really meant for each other.

Shortly after three o'clock, English cricket's initial dabble with a third umpire adjudicating on borderline run out, stumped, and hit-wicket decisions, got off to the sort of dickey start that suggests that when umpire Bird is issued with his walkie-talkie, almost anything is possible. Harold will probably press the button and find himself tuned into The Archers.

As it happened, it would not have mattered yesterday if Jones, the TV umpire, had been watching the horse racing on Channel Four instead of the cricket on BBC1. When Barry Dudleston radioed up for an adjudication on whether or not Wasim Akram had been run out, the Beeb's first replay was from a hopeless angle, and the second was conclusive only in the fact that Wasim's bat had arrived in the crease before the stumps were broken.

As, however, it was impossible to ascertain whether Wasim's body was attached to his bat, Dudleston was forced to revert to Law 27 (if in doubt, the batsman shall be given the benefit) which used to serve the game perfectly well until cricketers began behaving as badly as footballers squabbling over a throw-in.

This experiment may yet figure in the Ashes series, with walkie-talkies being employed to enlighten (or further confuse) the officials in the middle. In South Africa and New Zealand the spare umpire illuminates either a red light or a green one, and on the evidence here yesterday, an amber one ('haven't got the foggiest, mate . . . ') is urgently required.

The walkie-talkie method is presumably meant to invest the system with a shade more dignity, but if crowd appeal is partly the motive (as one suspects it is) then you might just as well go the whole hog with flashing lights, sirens, rocket flares, whatever.

The TCCB's concept may, of course, be a cunning plan to increase their sponsorship rake-off. 'Here at the Foster's Oval (the home of the Citroen Action replay and the Wilkinson Sword revolving sightscreen) today's run out was brought to you by courtesy of the Captain Kirk ('Beam me up Scotty' model) walkie-talkie, available at all county bookshops, pounds 999.99.'

Scoreboard, page 34

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