Bicknell haul helps Surrey to win at last after Key falls

Surrey 479 and 174-3;

Kent 239 and 413.

Surrey win by seven wickets
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The Independent Online

This was a landmark match for myriad reasons. It marked a double first - Surrey's first win and Kent's first defeat in the Championship this season, which cost them the leadership. Ladbrokes promptly cut Surrey's odds of winning the title from 16-1 to 5-1.

The winning runs were hit, most appropriately given the criticism and doubt that has clouded his appointment thus far, by the Surrey captain, Jon Batty, to round off his fine match.

But there were other fine individual performances. The Surrey seamer Martin Bicknell has been plying his trade for 18 years and his consistency has been remarkable. Injuries have taken big chunks out of the odd season, but he has still taken a lot of wickets - 1,003 to be exact.

He claimed his 1,000th at 11.30am yesterday, the victim was Matthew Dennington, 21, playing his second first-class match. This was the 35-year-old Bicknell's 272nd match.

Bicknell admitted later: "It has always been at the back of my mind and it is a huge relief to get there. And I was pleased that it was caught behind rather than a slap to mid-wicket." It was more a slap in the collective face of the Championship leaders.

It was after lunch before he struck again, by which time Robert Key was on the threshold of his own personal landmark. The Kent opener, 134 not out overnight, had made disciplined progress, first passing 150 followed by his career best of 174, until after more than 12 hours out in the middle over his two innings in this match, he arrived at the brink of a maiden double hundred.

But he was looking tired. He had hit a couple of weary-looking shots to take him to 199, then he essayed a lazy lunge and turned away disgustedly as the ball flew safely to the solitary Surrey slip, Alistair Brown, giving the fielder his 199th catch.

Key's marathon effort had occupied 358 disciplined balls from which he had hit 28 boundaries and a six. His disappointment at missing out, though, needs to be tempered with the knowledge that he is within sight of 1,000 runs for the season - this effort took him to 893, at something around 111.

Kent then flagged. Rob Ferley became victim 1,002 and when Martin Saggers played on, he presented Bicknell with his 41st five-wicket haul. But then Bicknell was seen off by the last-wicket pair of Mohammad Sami and Amjad Khan, who added 49 runs off 41 balls.

It did little more than prolong the agony, putting Kent 173 ahead and giving Surrey 47 overs in which to win.

Scott Newman hit his first three balls to the boundary but an over-eager Nadeem Shahid had been afflicted by the contagion and fell lbw first ball.

Mark Ramprakash, worldly wise, steered Surrey along at a sensible rate. But Kent successfully improved their over-rate, which was threatening to rob them of two of their four hard-earned points, by using Michael Carberry's off-spin and Matthew Walker's medium pace.

It all became too tempting for Newman, who finally lost patience, slamming a ball down the throat of Saggers on the long-off boundary to give Carberry a rare wicket. Rikki Clarke went to another attempted big shot, but Surrey won with 12 overs to spare.