Cricket: Surrey run through sorry Lancashire

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The Independent Online
Surrey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .179-7

Lancashire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .178-6

Surrey win by 1 run

FORGET Lord's. The bread and lard home of the one-day game in England remains here in Greater Manchester, with another thrilling finish. Lancashire proved their attraction once more, pulling in a crowd approaching 5,000 despite the 44,000 capacity counter-attraction down the road.

The sun shone, but Lancashire were not beaming. In an astonishing finish, Surrey reduced their opponents from 164 for 2 in the last three overs to 178 for 6, with Michael Watkinson, Wasim Akram, remarkably off a wide, and Graham Lloyd all run out in the most dramatic of finales.

As the champion all-time limited-overs county with 10 titles, two more than Kent, Lancashire were just hobbling this time, losing Neil Fairbrother and Wasim with hamstring tweaks, making them doubtful for tomorrow's Benson and Hedges Cup match at Derby.

Lloyd and Fairbrother, before retiring hurt for 59, guided Lancashire to the brink with a partnership of 140 in 24 overs. Ultimately, 13 were needed from Joey Benjamin's last over and four off the final two balls, the game finishing at 7.43pm.

Fairbrother confirmed his ability as a pusher and nudger into spaces. Lloyd, not in the current Championship side, hit six fours in his 72-ball half-century, Fairbrother just two and it was three balls quicker.

Despite the coloured clothing in the recycled 40-over competition, there was no fancy stuff, just a riveting finish. It had been attritional and the low scoring seemed a long way removed from when Lancashire won the first Sunday title at Nuneaton 25 years ago.

They have collected two more titles since, but in this match Surrey overcame losing too many specialist batsmen too soon, the bane of a club whose best Sunday position was third last summer. Alec Stewart was caught at square- leg, a fate later befalling his England captain, Michael Atherton, whose dismissal was the hybrid of a gentle flick and the ball stopping on him.

Help was at hand and had been much earlier when Wasim's injury prompted Jason Gallian not only to finish the uncompleted over but have Martin Bicknell taken at short mid-wicket. Bicknell retaliated with the wicket of Atherton in what became a crucial eight- over spell costing 18 runs.