Bicknell sets the agenda

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The Independent Online

Leicestershire 318 & 33-6 Surrey 288

Leicestershire 318 & 33-6 Surrey 288

A stunning spell of seam bowling by Martin Bicknell turned this match on its head. Five wickets in 37 balls (the last three in the space of 10 deliveries) put the First Division leaders firmly in charge of proceedings after what had threatened to turn into something of a groundhog day, when the emphasis had been on the grind.

The echoes of the first day were there. The first two sessions had demanded patience from players and spectators, but the final one was stuffed with drama.

Once more there were notable individual performances, one on each side, as it was first time around; again there were bushels of extras.

The leaders had conceded a first-innings lead after a flurry of Surrey batsmen had effectively given away their wickets, but Bicknell followed up his first innings heroics by ripping out Darren Maddy's off-stump, Iain Sutcliffe's middle pole, having Darren Stevens caught in the slips, nightwatchman Neil Burns leg before and Aftab Habib snapped up again by Mark Butcher at second slip. It all added up to his third haul of 10 wickets in a match and a second Championship victory in a fortnight over the same sorry opponents.

On a near perfect pitch - the odd ball did sneak through at low altitude - the bowlers needed to put the ball there or thereabouts while the batsmen had to remain watchful. When that happened the rewards were there. James Ormond's six-wicket haul did not quite match Bicknell's seven (the Surrey man had winkled out last man Anil Kumble yesterday morning to wrap up Leicestershire's first innings) but it was a worthy effort.

One of those half dozen wickets was picked up with the fifth ball of Ormond's spell of useful-looking off-spin. The way Ormond's pace then docked the Surrey tail would have made a vet smile, although the gift-wrapped shots had the Surrey fans howling. But they were also given plenty to cheer. Ian Ward's hundred kept the Foxes from the door for more than five hours. As with Ben Smith's for Leicestershire it was crammed with quality.

And when Alistair Brown returned after treatment for a nasty blow to his right forearm Leicestershire found themselves caught between a crock and hard case as the pair smacked a further 60 runs off 15 overs, having earlier knocked off a patient 15 before Ormond rendered Brown temporarily hors de combat. After that it was Bicknell's day.