Cricket: Surrey survive an ordeal by spin

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The Independent Online
Surrey. . . . . . 228 and 147 for 7

Nottinghamshire. .68 and 306

Surrey win by three wickets

FIELDERS swarming round the bat like bees sizing up a hive, spinners teasing and taunting, batsmen baffled by lift and turn on a cream-coloured pitch. Had the Tardis transported us back to the Oval heyday of Lock and Laker?

Not quite. For one thing, the present Surrey order is far flimsier than those at the disposal of Stuart Surridge and Peter May, as yesterday's stumble towards a sixth Championship win of the summer illustrated.

For another, for all the havoc wreaked by the respective slow left-armers, Neil Kendrick and Andy Afford, none of the three off-spinners had a look-in. Indeed, while Kendrick was tying Notts in knots with a spell of 4 for 14, James Boiling did not so much as turn his arm over.

Kendrick ultimately emerged with a career-best 7 for 115, a distinct improvement on his season high of 2 for 11. A bubbly, boisterous character in the mould of his predecessor, Keith Medlycott, he flighted the ball temptingly, maintained a tight line, and let the surface do the rest as the visitors, resuming 103 ahead, shed their last four for 42.

'You don't get to bowl on a pitch like that every day,' the man of the hour acknowledged. Not that the Test and County Cricket Board pitch inspector is likely to condemn one of his own creations.

Chris Cairns, such a rock the previous evening, was the first to be shifted, edging Kendrick's fourth ball of the morning to Monte Lynch at slip. Kevin Evans continued to hold the fort sensibly, repelling the good ones and colouring anything loose to reach a worthy half-century before being picked off by the same combination. Bruce French was also snared in the cordon and the innings ended as Afford was castled essaying something typically wild and woolly.

Requiring a maximum break of 147, Surrey were immediately snookered as Cairns pinned Darren Bicknell leg-before with his fourth ball. Paul Atkins and Graham Thorpe were at full stretch to keep Afford at bay from the other end, yet it was a pumped-up Chris Lewis who defeated Atkin's prod with a full- length effort.

The fourth ball after the re-start saw Afford deflect Lynch's catchable drive into the stumps with Thorpe apparently stranded. The unsighted Barrie Meyer deemed otherwise, however, and the pair had added 63 when Lynch lofted Afford to deep mid-off.

Lewis now donned his cape. First an agile plunge to intercept Thorpe's glide, then rapid deliveries to bowl Andy Smith and Alec Stewart and induce a rash waft from Alistair Brown. Boiling, though, finally ended the agony to lift Surrey into second place 27 points behind Middlesex. For the Man Who Would Have Been England Captain, consolation may yet be at hand.

(Photograph omitted)