Ben left on the back burner

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The Independent Online

In days gone by, three-day cricket meant the side batting first batted for bonus points on the first day minus the six overs they had at the nervous opposition openers in the gathering gloom, and at the end of the second day negotiations started on a suitable target for the finale.

In days gone by, three-day cricket meant the side batting first batted for bonus points on the first day minus the six overs they had at the nervous opposition openers in the gathering gloom, and at the end of the second day negotiations started on a suitable target for the finale.

How four-day cricket has changed that attitude. Put in to bat, Surrey, the champions, had no intention of declaring their innings, having already lost the first day through bad weather.

If the change to four-day cricket was meant to make us more Australian in our attitude, it has certainly worked. The longer Surrey batted on from their overnight position of 278 for 6, the greater the possibility that the game would eventually turn into a draw, but in this era where points are awarded for just such an outcome it is no longer frowned upon in the dressing room.

One-innings cricket might just catch on, and indeed the quest now is to ensure superior amounts of bonus points.

And Surrey were in the lead at the close of their innings as they had four points from their possible five and Kent had two from three. Of course, a half-decent batting display by the visitors would rectify that, but Surrey had the benefit of a wrist spinner and a left-arm spinner with which to entice and tease the Kent batters.

Rupesh Amin and Ian Salisbury needed to earn their spurs, and Adam Hollioake did not take long to introduce them.

Ed Smith had already hooked Martin Bicknell to the square-leg trap before Amin and Salisbury were deployed in tandem in the 27th over. On a pitch where earlier Martin Bicknell had scored 73 and Salisbury 50 and little had moved off the straight, it was important that these twirly men got it right.

Robert Key was the first to go, caught by Ben Hollioake at first slip off a good Salisbury leg-break, but Rahul Dravid and Alan Wells saw Kent through without further mishap until there was a break in play at 5.20, when the umpires decreed the light was to poor for play to continue.

Which left Ben Hollioake kicking his heels without a bowl having batted at No 7. For a potential international all-rounder this is not good enough, and as silly as it may sound, it might be time for him to look to pastures new to improve his cricket.

Admittedly it is difficult to leave the county champions, but he undoubtedly has the talent to make an impact on the international stage and he never will if he continues to live a sheltered life in the "comfort zone".

Mark Ealham is encouraged by the selection of Craig White for England, and so should Hollioake be, but he needs to give some meaningful performances at county level, performances that involve some responsibility. Without them he is a waste of talent. In fact, batting at No 7 and bowling as an afterthought is a waste of talent, talent that England need.

Scoreboard

Kent won toss

Surrey

Overnight 278-6 (Brown 60)

A J Hollioake b Ealham 51 M P Bicknell c Masters b Dravid 73 I D K Salisbury lbw b Saggers 50 A J Tudor not out 7 R M Amin run out 3 Extras (b10 lb17 w8) 35 Total (142.5 overs) 417 Fall: 1-78, 2-101, 3-105, 4-181, 5-234, 6-244, 7-288, 8-401, 9-409.

Bowling: M A Ealham 25-5-76-1, M J Saggers 23-6-66-2, D D Masters 28-8-75-3, M V Fleming 23-8-59-1, M M Patel 36-7-98-0, R Dravid 7.5-3-16-2.

Kent - First Innings

E T Smith c Salisbury b Bicknell 24 R W T Key c B C H'oake b S'bury 19 R Dravid not out 44 0 6 A P Wells not out 22 0 3 Extras (w2 nb4) 6 Total (for 2, 41.4 overs) 115 Fall: 1-34, 2-63. To Bat: M A Ealham, P A Nixon, *M V Fleming, J B Hockley, M M Patel, M J Saggers, D D Masters.

Bowling: M P Bicknell 7.4-1-19-1, A J Tudor 8-4-18-0, B C Hollioake 6-2-14-0, A J Hollioake 3-2-4-0, R M Amin 9-2-27-0, I D K Salisbury 8-1-33-1.

Umpires: M J Harris and A A Jones.

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