Fiery Bicknell does the damage

Northants 120 and 99-5 Surrey 368
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The Independent Online

Martin Bicknell sent out his habitual 'At Home' invitation from the Guildford Festival, and once more treated the guests in a far from hospitable way.

Woodbridge Road is Bicknell's club ground and he has invariably performed well on it, last year for example he claimed 16 Leicestershire wickets here. Yesterday the haul was more modest, but no less telling – five wickets which cranked up the odds on Surrey recording a second win in their quest for a successful defence of the Championship.

Northamptonshire must have been relieved when bad light eventually brough a premature close to proceedings, leaving them still 149 runs away from making Surrey bat again.

With a chill breeze over his right shoulder and under ever-darkening skies Bicknell blew the batsmen away with movement off the pitch and his trademark late away swing. He was also able to exploit the bounce, a factor with which Alistair Brown had earlier had no problem when compiling a responsible, and, from a Surrey point of view, important hundred.

It helped to open up a first-innings advantage of 248 runs – a big enough difference under normal circumstances, a veritable chasm with the top of the order back in the pavilion.

Brown was at his most prudent, taking no risks, just head down all the way. The fireworks came from a less likely source, Alex Tudor, who scored his maiden hundred earlier this season. The England fast bowler got off the mark with a pulled six off Paul Taylor and in the bowler's next over Tudor thumped 19 off it. He then went into his shell with the introduction of Jason Brown, who eventually accounted for him bat-pad, having helped put on 60 runs in 12 overs for the sixth wicket.

Brown carried on, reaching three figures in 131 balls. His dismissal owed everything to Tony Penberthy's brilliant reflexes as he scooped up the hard, low drive to mid-wicket, but the damage had been done. Brown's 26th first-class century was his fifth against Northamptonshire and his first on this ground, although Ian Salisbury's unbeaten 42 also contributed to the mountain of runs.

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