Cricket: Surrey sweep to victory in two days: Warwickshire's weak batting exposed by sharp pace attack

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The Independent Online
Warks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .88 and 157

Surrey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .175 and 71-2

ABJECT batting, vividly exposed by Surrey's sharp competitive edge, condemned Warwickshire to a two-day defeat by eight wickets yesterday. None of their top five batsmen averages 30 this summer, making them easy targets for a rampant pace attack.

Martin Bicknell, with 6 for 50, destroyed them in the second innings, just as Waqar Younis had in the first. Their combined wicket total of 62 in six Championship games this summer, 35 to Bicknell, expresses succinctly the basis of Surrey's title challenge. They would have become joint leaders if rain had not deprived them of a potential win over Glamorgan earlier in the week but this time they roared along, with agile fielding and runs from the lower order confirming their pedigree and intent.

At 44 for 6 on the first day, Surrey were even regarding Warwickshire's 88 all out as a total beyond the horizon. They turned the game around with the battling qualities which Warwickshire patently lack.

Even before Bicknell tore through Warwickshire's gossamer-thin batting, Neil Kendrick and Joey Benjamin added 47 in 45 minutes for Surrey's last wicket, the biggest partnership of the match at that point. Michael Burns, Warwickshire's reserve wicketkeeper, cost his team 33 precious runs when dropping Kendrick off Tim Munton.

An opening stand of 62 between Andy Moles and Jason Ratcliffe gave way to a familiar Warwickshire collapse. Vulnerable, strokeless and struggling to combat pace, they tottered, losing their last nine wickets for 95 runs.

Roger Twose, batting at No 3, has now scored 97 runs in 11 Championship innings, Ratcliffe and Dominic Ostler have both managed only 321, and Trevor Penney, whose reputation is based on his fielding, looks out of sorts when facing the fastest bowlers.

Four leg-before dismissals were not so much a comment on Warwickshire's difficulty in coping with the ball moving off the seam or through the air but their rank inability to adjust to full-length, express deliveries.

Moles simply lost patience, as he is prone to do. After spending 15 minutes marooned eight runs short of a half-century, he wafted at Bicknell and spooned a catch to cover.

It was a wanton waste of a wicket in the context of what was a timeless match. So many hours remained that urgency was the least priority. Ratcliffe had also darted at a ball outside the off stump and provided a catch for Thorpe, whose athleticism supplemented the reflexes of Monte Lynch, who had parried the ball.

With the match well-nigh won, Surrey encountered the problems which the perversity of the game throws into the cauldron. At 1 for 2, with Allan Donald taking both wickets, a target of 71 was distant enough, but Alistair Brown's urgent stroke- play brought victory at 7.25pm.

(Photograph omitted)