Butcher leads Surrey home

Surrey 575-8 dec and 116-0 Sussex 308 and 379 <i>Surrey win by 10 wickets</i>
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The Independent Online

Surrey looked like heavyweight County Championship contenders as they raced to a 10-wicket victory over Sussex here yesterday.

Surrey looked like heavyweight County Championship contenders as they raced to a 10-wicket victory over Sussex here yesterday.

The 1999 and 2000 champions were able to pass the finishing post at their leisure on the final morning, having scored a monumental first-innings 575 for 8 at a hectic pace and then dutifully chipped through the Sussex order twice on a pitch made for batting.

The stand-in captain, the England batsman Mark Butcher, with 68 not out, appropriately led them home in company with Ian Ward, who made 43 not out, as they knocked off the 113 runs they needed to leave last year's Second Division champions in little doubt as to what they are up against this summer.

A match which began in sombre mood with a two-minute silence in memory of Surrey's Ben Hollioake and Sussex's Umer Rashid therefore ended in a resounding victory for the hosts and a chastening debut at this level for their victims.

Butcher was never in any doubt Surrey at least would be capable of performing to their best, even in the state of raw emotion which immediately preceded start of play on Friday as the teams paid their tribute to two all-rounders killed in separate accidents in the weeks leading up to the new season.

"The way the guys have reacted since we have been back in pre-season has been so impressive," he said. "There has been no thought of slacking – in fact I believe they have worked harder than ever.

"The reaction of Ally Brown and Nadeem Shahid when they got their hundreds in the first innings said it all. Even if you do not wear it on your sleeve all season it is still there in the back of your mind pushing the guys on all the time."

Butcher, whose untroubled half-century had taken just 43 balls and contained nine fours, was impressed by the way the Surrey attack stuck to their task to bowl Sussex out twice on a wicket which had little in it for the bowlers.

"Scoring runs came easy to both teams," he said. "But the difference was we had the extra firepower to bowl them out while they were going at four an over."

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