Cricket: Surrey sunk by Lara's late flourish: Reeve steers Warwickshire into Benson and Hedges final

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Surrey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .267-7

Warwickshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .270-6

Warwickshire win by 4 wickets

SURREY'S long-suffering supporters yesterday discovered that you can have too much of a good thing as they enjoyed and endured the bittersweet experience of watching Brian Lara bat.

Australians always said of David Gower that they liked to watch him bat - but not for too long. Lara now inspires the same feelings and, in a one-day match, he does not have to bat long to win it.

Yesterday Lara teased both Surrey and a fair, but unremarkable crowd, by waiting until Warwickshire were four wickets down and 25 overs into their innings before coming to the crease. A little under two hours later, with the match won, he departed, having scored 70 off 73 balls. It was a compact innings, not a long-playing record one, but enough to secure a Benson and Hedges Cup final appearance before he flies home today to mum in Trinidad.

It is only fair to mention that even before Lara's arrival Warwickshire were on course for their second successive Lord's final, although Surrey, propelled by the unlikely figure of Tony Piggott, were threatening to regain control.

Pigott, who was hit for 74 runs by Warwickshire while playing for Sussex in last year's NatWest final, had taken three wickets in 16 balls and was bowling with the vigour of his youth when Lara came in with the target 148 in 30 overs.

He scored only one off his first five balls but took nine off the next four. With the indefatigable Dermot Reeve, whose all-round performance earned him the Gold Award, alongside him, the result was never in doubt from then on. Although he turned a half-volley from Adam Hollioake into a yorker with 17 more runs required, Warwickshire won with five balls to spare.

Lara's delayed entry was due to sheer exhaustion after his record innings and he was so tired he was off the field for the last 46 minutes of Surrey's testing but inadequate 267 for 7. The original explanation from the Warwickshire dressing-room was 'heat exhaustion'. By recent South London standards it was a warm day, but hardly a steaming afternoon in Port-of-Spain and that was soon altered to plain exhaustion.

Cup regulations meant he could not have appeared at his customary No 3, but he did not show until six. There had been no need. Michael Burns had thrashed a quick start and the regular openers, Dominic Ostler and Roger Twose, maintained the rate at five- an-over until Pigott dismissed both before tea.

When Lara finally appeared - Paul Smith having been leg-before four balls after the break - he was accorded a standing ovation which included even the most voluble Surrey supporters. Despite their disappointment, they accorded him the same honour when he left.

Surrey, who remain without a trophy in 12 years, should have scored more, but only David Ward of their hitters came off. Alec Stewart chased a wide one, Ally Brown holed out at long-off and Hollioake was leg-before to a yorker. Ward thumped 61 in 65 balls, but the key innings was Graham Thorpe's 87 in 105, which he followed with a stunning slip catch. It was not Test cricket, but it was a big occasion, and it is time his ability and courage were recognised by England's new regime.

(Warwickshire won toss)

SURREY

D J Bicknell c and b Reeve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 * A J Stewart c Burns b Twose . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 G P Thorpe c and b N M K Smith . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87 D M Ward b N M K Smith . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61 A D Brown c Penney b N M K Smith . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 A J Hollioake lbw b Reeve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 M A Butcher c Munton b Reeve . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 A C S Pigott not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 J Boiling not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Extras (lb11 w6 nb2) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Total (for 7, 55 overs) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 267

Fall: 1-59 2-92 3-210 4-232 5-236 6-242 7-254.

Did not bat: J E Benjamin, C E Cuffy.

Bowling: Small 11-2-38-0; Munton 11-2-36-0; Reeve 11-0-48-3; Twose 5-0-33-1; N M K Smith 8-0- 54-3; P A Smith 9-0-47-0.

WARWICKSHIRE

D P Ostler b Pigott . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .44 M Burns c Thorpe b Benjamin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18 R G Twose c Stewart b Pigott . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46 P A Smith lbw b Pigott . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Asif Din c Cuffy b Boiling . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 B C Lara b Hollioake . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70 * D A Reeve not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 T L Penney not out . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Extras (lb3 nb4) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 Total (for 6, 54.1 overs). . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .270

Fall: 1-28 2-106 3-117 4-120 5-158 6-251.

Did not bat: N M K Smith, G C Small, T M Munton.

Bowling: Cuffy 11-0-66-0; Benjamin 11-0-41-1; Butcher 3.1-0-26-0; Pigott 11-0-43-3; Hollioake 7-0- 49-1; Boiling 11-1-42-1.

Umpires: D J Constant and B Dudleston.

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