Bicknell's talent wasted

Surrey 258 and 193-8 Kent 301 Match drawn
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The Independent Online

Martin Bicknell should be borne around The Oval on a litter for hours and hours if Surrey avoid relegation this season. And the bearers should be the Surrey top order and a couple of England selectors for good measure after his superlative all-round performance against Kent, which earned Surrey four invaluable points for the draw.

He claimed four first-innings wickets, scored 78 first time around and crowned the display with his maiden first-class century in the second innings on Saturday, a remarkable knock, given that he arrived at the crease with Surrey just one run in front on a precarious 44 for 6. By the close Bicknell and the Surrey tail had turned that into a 150-run lead and if nothing else had made a game of it.

That fabulous performance saw him become the leading wicket-taker in the country with 60 and he now tops the Surrey batting averages and is their highest scorer with 660 Championship runs.

Sadly, yesterday the weather sabotaged any chance of either side going for victory and the match was abandoned as a draw. And although everything pointed to a Kent victory if play had been possible Bicknell's confidence in his ability is such that he thought the last two wickets could have added a further 40 or 50 runs which he felt would have made a game of it. "The pitch was turning and 200 to win the game was never an easy target and we would have half fancied our chances."

At least he knew he had done more than his bit for his county. "I regard the hundred as a great achievement in my career," he said. "If I had gone through the whole of my career without making a hundred I would have felt something was missing. As it is, it is a great weight off my mind."

His mood darkened when conversation switched to England. Bicknell, who won his two Test caps in the 1993 Ashes series, was within a whisker of the side for the second Ashes Test at Lord's, but lost out. "There were apparently two reasons that I did not make it,'' he said. "First I was not considered fast enough, second, they apparently felt I was too old."

Bicknell, who is 32, added: "When they picked Alan Mullally ahead of me for this Test at Headingley, I think that was the most disappointing moment of the summer for me. Mullally is no faster than I am and he is just six months younger. That hurts. I don't have a problem with the selection of younger players, but I think I have done enough to deserve another chance."