Cricket: Thorpe stands firm against spin

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The Independent Online
Glamorgan 364 Surrey 273-4

Surrey have been flying high for so long this summer that the cynical among The Oval faithful have waited expectantly and with perhaps some degree of triumphalism for what so nearly happened at Cardiff yesterday, when Glamorgan's spin twins, Robert Croft and Dean Cosker, had them reeling either side of lunch.

Having salvaged maximum bowling points on the opening day - vital to their Championship challenge - they almost threw it all away as the Glamorgan pair tied them up in knots and then started unravelling the reply.

It took some steady work by Graham Thorpe and then Nadeem Shahid, with support from the vice-captain, Adam Hollioake, to pull them around and give their followers some hope of earning a decent result on a distinctly slow wicket.

Having taken 6.2 overs in the morning to winkle out the last Glamorgan batsman - Owen Parkin for a stubborn 12 - by way of a snorter to the youngster from Chris Lewis, Surrey's openers set about compiling a patient half- century stand in what at times looked like a dust storm, so bare is the track.

Unfortunately, both openers went before lunch. Darren Bicknell was stumped by Adrian Shaw off Croft and in the next over Mark Butcher was smartly taken around the corner by the Glamorgan captain, Matthew Maynard.

The left-handed Butcher, who goes on the England A tour to Australia this winter, has now lost his wicket on seven occasions in the 15 minutes preceding an interval or the close of play in 30 outings, a statistic which suggests a loss of concentration.

The double blow could have cost Surrey dearly, especially when the captain, Alec Stewart, was run out in a mix-up with Thorpe. Thankfully, Thorpe applied himself and pieced together a fine 77 - the 12th time he has passed 50 this summer. But when he fell, well-taken low down by Hugh Morris at slip to give Steve Watkin a deserved wicket, it looked all over for the Surrey cause.

Nadeem had other ideas. He is in the side on merit, displacing the popular but woefully out-of-form Alistair Brown, and he did not let Surrey down. Patiently, he and Hollioake pulled the innings around, and by the close their unbroken fifth-wicket stand was worth 72 runs - and two more precious batting bonus points.

Some quick work with the bat today could see Surrey back on level terms.