Brown blow for champions

Northamptonshire 120 & 193 Surrey 368 Surrey win by an innings and 55 runs

As if the drain on Surrey's personnel were not bad enough, with five top order batsmen on Test duty at Lord's, it emerged yesterday afternoon that they had lost another key player – this time through injury.

As if the drain on Surrey's personnel were not bad enough, with five top order batsmen on Test duty at Lord's, it emerged yesterday afternoon that they had lost another key player – this time through injury.

Alistair Brown could be out for up to a month after fracturing his left thumb while fielding on the first day; incredibly, the prolific run-scorer then went on to hit a second hundred of the season.

But yesterday his darkly blackened digit necessitated a trip to hospital and it looks as if Brown will miss the crucial Championship match against the First Division leaders Yorkshire at the start of next month.

For now, though, Surrey are back to their winning ways after a fine team performance, with one or two individuals rising a little higher than the rest. Chief among these was Martin Bicknell. The Woodbridge Road ground is his turf and he certainly ruled the roost as he helped polish off the Northamptonshire second innings before lunch yesterday.

His seven wickets for 60 runs was his second-best return at Guildford and the fifth time he has taken five wickets or more in an innings here. His tally of victims at this venue now numbers a remarkable 76 in a dozen visits and Bicknell is well on course to complete a second successive all-rounder's double of 50 wickets and 500 runs in a season, unless the England selectors come to their senses and deprive the reigning champions of yet another player.

Indeed, there was a point in the morning's proceedings when it looked as if Bicknell would create another bit of history by taking all 10-second innings wickets. He had Toby Bailey caught behind and David Ripley brilliantly taken by the substitute fielder Gary Butcher in the slips.

That impression was reinforced when a sheepish Bicknell spilled an edge by Graeme Swann off the bowling of Ed Giddins. The latter got his own back when he broke the Bicknell sequence by accounting for Swann in his next over – to a disappointed groan from the Guildford faithful, if only a shrug from the two bowlers.

Ben Hollioake and Alex Tudor picked off the last two wickets to fall, but as Surrey came off, most of the applause was deservedly for Bicknell.

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