Cricket: Surrey's day of frustration

Surrey 373; Essex 203 & 75-4 Match drawn
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AN UNHAPPY day for the Championship leaders and a worrying one for England. Surrey's determined effort to wring a victory out of this rain- sodden match was frustrated and left the England opener Mark Butcher trudging off at the end clutching his left thumb after attempting to take what would have been a fantastic slip catch.

England will be assessing the damage - "It's sore" was Butcher's verdict - when the squad assembles at Lord's this morning for the Second Cornhill Test match against South Africa.

Surrey's quest for their fourth victory by an innings was thwarted by a torrential downpour, despite the two sides returning for five of a possible 12 overs at the death after spending almost three hours watching the rain fall. Surrey's captain, Adam Hollioake, tried in that spell to capture the six wickets his side needed for victory after they had taken six in the 30-odd overs the weather had allowed them earlier.

Without the England captain, Alec Stewart, who had a stomach upset, began the day by collecting maximum bonus points and enforcing the follow- on, although they were held up when the Essex tail-ender Jamie Grove, in his maiden first class innings, hit a rebellious 33, including a straight six back over Martin Bicknell's head.

Although Essex still finished 170 behind, Grove and Stephen Peters used up a precious, rain-free hour. Bicknell then proved unplayable for Paul Grayson, Nasser Hussain and Darren Robinson in a spell of 3 for 8 in 22 balls.

Rain confined the players to the pavilion after lunch while a further 12 valuable overs trickled down the drain. A brief reappearance of 18 minutes though was enough for the fast bowler Alex Tudor to account for Ronnie Irani then came that long interruption.