Cricket: Surrey so subdued

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Surrey 199 and 36-1

Somerset 344-7 dec

THE mood at The Oval is not sullen, but it is subdued. Spectators already lament a season that looked promising at the end of July and imploded in August. Set 421 to beat Somerset, Surrey have a slim chance indeed of stopping the rot, especially as Darren Bicknell was out fourth ball.

The club's cricket committee is considering changes for next season. Anyone would think Surrey are near the bottom of the Championship table. They are third; that is not considered good enough.

This game against Somerset exemplifies what went wrong. Last year Surrey's middle-order batsmen were Graham Thorpe, Monte Lynch and David Ward. They are not playing in this match and only Thorpe is injured. Surrey could not score 200 in the first innings.

True, there have been injuries and Test calls and indecision about whether Alec Stewart is an all-rounder or an opener. Consequently Surrey are likely to be in the market for a new opener. The only performance that rose above the routine yesterday was by Waqar Younis and he is spurred on by performance bonuses.

The day's best work was by Somerset's acting captain, Richard Harden. First he ground out 132 in five hours and 45 minutes, though his manner was extravagant compared to Robert Turner, whose first 50 took more than four hours. They put on 151, which was not pretty to watch and doleful to contemplate, but it was the basis of 344 for 7, which was sufficient to give Harden enough confidence to declare with 18 overs still left to play. Surrey did well to lose only one wicket but there are still 385 to get tomorrow - possibly 100 too many.