Azhar burst brings abject surrender

Surrey 355 & 282-3 Warwickshire 245
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The Independent Online

Invertebrates have been battling for survival on this planet for longer than man has been around, but on the evidence of yesterday's spineless performance Warwickshire's cricketing equivalent are not long for the First Division world.

Surrey's all-round show was at times dazzling. There were centuries for the two Marks, Butcher and Rampra-kash, late in the day as Surrey piled up a huge lead, and earlier there had been wickets for Azhar Mahmood, Martin Bicknell and James Ormond.

But there were also more dropped catches, misfields and appalling shots by Warwickshire, and very little apparent effort. It was not just that all 11 had a bad day at the office - if things carry on like this, it will turn into a bad season at the office - there was a distinct lack of team spirit.

Desmond Morris published books on body language, which is not always easy to read. One of Dr Morris's chimpanzees would have had little difficulty understanding what Warwickshire were expressing. Defeat. Submission. Abject surrender. Call it what you will. Their fans did not miss the signs. Heads bowed, feet scuffed through the grass and a flabby look all round.

They were dealt a wicked series of blows when Azhar dismissed Nick Knight, Mark Wagh and Jonathan Trott in a spell of 3 for 4 in eight balls in the morning. The rest had subsided by early afternoon.

At which point the Surrey batsmen took centre stage. The loss of Ian Ward was as immaterial to the Champion-ship leaders' cause as it was unexpected. Indeed the home fans were momentarily silenced as they absorbed his departure, caught behind off Surrey old boy Waqar Younis.

They were then silenced for the next two hours as Butcher and Ramprakash laid about them with ease, demolishing what passed for an attack.

Butcher will not score an easier hundred. The 26th of his career, his third of the season and his first against Warwickshire, it came at better than a run a ball. Ramprakash was more circumspect, but there was an element of speed to his 144-ball effort - his 64th century. At the close he was still going strong with Alec Stewart after Graham Thorpe missed out on the run-fest.

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