Cricket: Thorpe secures catch of the day

Worcestershire 204-9 Surrey 206-5 Surrey win by five wickets
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The Independent Online
GRAHAM THORPE, the man of the match, took three slip catches and made an unbeaten 91 but it was beyond his powers even to enliven a contest in which every batsman struggled to get the ball off the square. The crowd were in shirtsleeves but the pitch had so little pace that the strokeplayers were rendered almost impotent.

This was regrettable. The NatWest Trophy has enjoyed the reputation of a cricket showcase, always given prime slots and associated with high- scoring games. New Road strips have been notorious in recent years but if yesterday's offering was the best Worcestershire could come up with, it is a poor tale. The seats were emptying long before Surrey had won with 19 balls to spare.

Thorpe needed 148 balls and hit a fairly modest eight boundaries, statistics which are a true representation of how hard the England left-hander needed to work to deny the home side a seventh consecutive victory in all forms of cricket. He had a couple of let-offs - on 31 when Vikram Solanki spilled a routine catch at backward point and again, on 70, when Solanki missed a much more difficult chance - but his patience and concentration could only be admired.

Surrey had lost Ally Brown and Ben Hollioake in the first four overs and Alec Stewart had failed on 21 when a straight ball from Stuart Lampitt breached his defence, but Mark Butcher's 54 created a match-winning partnership of 142 in 32 overs.

Worcestershire had made even heavier weather of their 204, in which the contribution of Graeme Hick, left out of the first Test, was a foundation that proved inadequate. Only David Leatherdale, whose 37 included three boundaries in one over off Ian Salisbury in a rare passage of entertainment, offered worthwhile support.

Surrey did their best to be generous. Martin Bicknell gave away five wides in his opening over, in which Stewart dropped an apparent chance behind the stumps that would have sent Tom Moody packing.

The error was not expensive. Indeed, Stewart made amends when Moody had made only 12. Two of Thorpe's catches were brilliant but even he was surprised about the third. As Saqlain Mushtaq appealed for leg before against Steve Rhodes, Thorpe caught the ball and threw down the stumps, asking for a run-out. The umpire, John Steele, however, reckoned Rhodes had snicked the ball on to his pad and credited Thorpe with a catch.