Durham lose relegation fight

Butcher and Ward in record-breaking stand but Kent's depleted attack not so lucky

A day when the inevitable followed the predictable. Durham were lost in the trail of records and wreckage that Surrey left behind them. After the openers Mark Butcher and Ian Ward had completed their compilation of the highest stand for any wicket, by any county, against Durham, the home side's bowlers closed in like hungry wolves around nervy caribou.

A day when the inevitable followed the predictable. Durham were lost in the trail of records and wreckage that Surrey left behind them. After the openers Mark Butcher and Ian Ward had completed their compilation of the highest stand for any wicket, by any county, against Durham, the home side's bowlers closed in like hungry wolves around nervy caribou.

The coup de grâce should take place sometime today, unless a Durham resistance movement is founded. The 304 runs required to avoid the follow-on look as far removed from reality as a Harry Potter plot.

But the Surrey first-innings story still makes for a ripping yarn, so full of heroic deeds and records was it. Butcher's and Ward's joint effort stole much of the limelight, though. The 359 runs they realised was Surrey's highest first-wicket partnership in the County Championship; it was the second highest of all time for an opening stand, falling just 20 short of the mark set by Bobby Abel and William Brockwell during Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee year of 1897; and it was the fourth highest partnership for any wicket by a Surrey pair.

No wonder, after a list that long, that neither batsman was able to turn his hundred into a double. Butcher came closest, reaching 191 before he was bowled, possibly off his pads, by Stephen Harmison but not before he had steered Surrey to maximum batting points.

The declaration came at 2.25pm, at which point Durham were officially relegated - they had needed a maximum 20 points from this match, the solitary bowling point they gleaned disabused them of any lingering hopes of survival.

And still there were records to come. When Martin Bicknell produced an absolute beauty to Michael Gough, a delivery which swung to Clapham before breaking back to Vauxhall to remove the Durham opener's off stump, he slipped past Eric Bedser's total of 797 wickets for Surrey.

Durham's overseas player, Simon Katich, staged a fightback, if only for a couple of hours. The left-hander from Western Australia looked a class act and treated Saqlain Mushtaq's treacherous off-spin with canny ability.

His quick hands and eye ensured that he was rarely flummoxed. Ian Salisbury though was a different matter, as his four wickets to date prove. There was caution bordering on nervousness in Katich's approach, and when the leg spinner, having gone round the wicket for a while, eventually went back over, Katich disowned prudence, stepped out of his crease, lost it in the air and was stumped.

With his departure came the second bowling point for Surrey, but out went the bulk of Durham's first-innings hopes. The 138 runs they need to make Surrey bat again look far enough away. The 288 runs by which they trail are but a barely discernible mountain.

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