Cricket: Surrey seal vital victory

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The Independent Online
Surrey 211 and 442 Lancashire 145 and 368 Surrey win by 140 runs

Trafalgar Road's unpredictable, relaid pitch had the last word yesterday and, more often than not, it was "goodbye". By mid afternoon, under a hot sun, the ball was going through the top with some frequency as Surrey closed in on an important Championship win.

Not that it was straightforward. It took some time for the penny to drop for Surrey's attack that they were bowling the wrong length for these conditions and Lancashire found themselves passing 170 with only one wicket down. They had been set a target, strictly notional on this pitch, of 509, seven more than any side have ever made to win a Championship game. But, for a brief time, the locals were able to dream that this resort might be famous for something more than its flower show and as a haven for the natterjack toad.

Surrey's opening salvo with the new ball was too wide and too full, and Jason Gallian and Steve Titchard found themselves able to operate on the front foot with a certainty not possible in the first innings.

Titchard, one of those unsung but valuable journeymen of the game, might have felt it was not going to be his day when (to the mirth of his team- mates) he was asked for his admission ticket by a gateman who failed to recognise him. However, he was quick to recognise the half volleys and put them away with great fluency until he was bowled playing across the line.

By then, Brendon Julian and Martin Bicknell had started to dig the ball in just short of a length and, unsurprisingly, batting started to look decidedly hazardous once more.

This could be said to be a pitch which not only gets batsmen out but also finds them out. Not Gallian. He had started the day by yorking Julian and taking six wickets for the first time. Now he battled it out for some three hours, taking all sorts of blows, until he was caught off a world- weary stroke.

The rest was more predictable. Nick Speak was torpedoed by a ball from Joey Benjamin that removed his middle stump; Neil Fairbrother, facing a king pair, only just avoided it before his lack of footwork betrayed him; Graham Lloyd threw the bat at everything, including eventually a very wide one as Lancashire went down with all guns blazing, or at least as loudly as they could on this pitch.

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