Batty's attack subdues Yorkshire

With rain approaching, the champions have already done enough to avert defeat. A draw, with their current lead in points over Yorkshire, would amount to a victory. What the title is worth, with the leading players missing for most of the campaign, is another matter.

With rain approaching, the champions have already done enough to avert defeat. A draw, with their current lead in points over Yorkshire, would amount to a victory. What the title is worth, with the leading players missing for most of the campaign, is another matter.

There was however, a victory for county cricket with a 7,000-plus partisan crowd who were enjoying themselves until after tea when they had to watch their under-strength attack dismantled by the Surrey tail, led by a belligerent Jon Batty. Yorkshire's day can be summed up by the fact Simon Guy, their young wicket-keeper, was their best performer.

Surrey were probably pleased to bat first for the pitch was not as malevolent as its green top suggested and Mike Denness, the England and Wales Cricket Board inspector, was able to enjoy the Festival sunshine. The champions were also without Martin Bicknell, withdrawn with a back strain.The new ball did seam and swing, sometimes wickedly, but David Byas's reward for winning the toss was just two wickets by lunch.

Not for the first time this summer, Chris Silverwood and Matthew Hoggard sacrificed length and line for speed and although Gavin Hamilton kept a better line, he is always prone to stray. Byas's gamble was rescued, eventually, by the modest medium pace of Gary Fellows and the lift of debutant Greg Lambert [6ft 8ins], Yorkshire's ninth newcomer this summer. But,once again, Yorkshire fielded without a spinner and will be debating, in midwinter, why they have failed to develop one.

Silverwood, to be fair, was unlucky. He saw Ian Ward snick between the slips and gully, survive an impassioned appeal for a catch behind and then watched him dropped at third slip when 12.

Ward accepted all this with the old pro's air of nonchalance, and dug in with Devonian intransigence while Nadeem Shahid attacked, the pair raising 64 in 16 overs and banishing all thoughts of collapse. Earlier Mark Butcher had been undone by Hamilton's swing.

Shahid discovered, too late, that Fellows is not as innocuous as he looks. But Surrey, with captain Adam Hollioake at the wicket, were starting to win control when Ward fell for the persevering Hoggard's slower ball and gave mid-on a diving forward catch. Five wickets fell in the next 15 overs, a slide difficult to explain as the shine and hardness had gone from the ball, the outfield had quickened and Byas was rotating the attackin hope rather than expectation.

Ally Brown was taking his bat away when surprised by Lambert's bounce; Adam Hollioake cut and pulled successive balls from Silverwood for four, exchanged words with Hoggard after a shy at the stumps had hit his legs and then fell to a superb catch behind; his brother Ben looked equally angry to be caught behind off the second ball of Fellows's second spell and Gary Butcher mistimed a push to cover.

Batty and Ian Salisbury then enjoyed some tiring and uninspired bowling, Salisbury (10) being missed at slip off Darren Lehmann and when Batty was caught off a full toss at long off, the stand of 78 was the best of the innings.

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