Lancashire bamboozled by Bicknell's rich seam

Lancashire 210 Surrey 148-2

Martin Bicknell's return to action was delayed momentarily yesterday while the Mayor of Croydon, Cllr Brenda Kirby, innocently walked behind the Surrey bowler's arm.

Once the dignitary had passed in front of the sightscreen Lancashire were then subjected to further indignities by the Brown Hats in this County Championship First Division match, in what is turning into a dreadful season for the Red Rose county.

Only last weekend they had lost to Surrey in the semi-finals of the Twenty20 Cup, and yesterday after Jimmy Ormond and Bicknell had played a major role in whipping them out cheaply Lancashire then found themselves on the wrong end of Scott Newman's and Mark Ramprakash's bats.

The Surrey pair piled on the agony in the cool of the evening with a century partnership for the second wicket. Newman did fall before the close, stumped by Jamie Haynes off Gary Keedy, but not before he had scored his second half-century in successive innings.

Ramprakash though, like the consummate professional and master batsman that he is, remained undeterred and he too passed fifty - the fifth time he has done so in his last seven Championship outings.

In the main the visitors had only themselves to blame. Amid superb seam bowling from Bicknell, who had missed Surrey's three previous Championship matches, and Ormond, poor shots were played.

What made it worse for Lancashire was that they were without six of their best for one reason or another. There was no Andrew Flintoff, Stuart Law, Mal Loye, Jimmy Anderson, Peter Martin or captain Warren Hegg. And their collective absence rendered the batting and bowling a sight more brittle and far less penetrative, factors which were duly exploited by Surrey at each end of the day.

Had it not been for a gritty 69 by Chris Schofield, Lancashire might have subsided for a paltry total, something which was on the cards after Ormond and Bicknell and reduced them to 21 for 4 inside nine overs.

That brought the acting captain, Carl Hooper, and Schofield together. They picked off runs and kept out the best that Surrey could bowl at them, but eventually, after the fifth wicket had realised 50 precious runs, Hooper fell after attempting a pull shot off Azhar Mahmood and succeeding only in chopping the ball on to his stumps.

Glen Chapple entered the fray and for 15 overs either side of lunch he and Schofield managed to double the total, at which point the former executed the sort of shot invariably employed for slip catching practice and departed.

Thereafter, Schofield and the tail just scraped and scavenged what runs they could, eventually gleaning enough to earn a solitary batting bonus point. After that Ramprakash and Surrey took over, drawing to within 62 by the close.

* The opening batsman Michael Brown recorded his highest score since April to help Hampshire build an impressive first-day total against their Championship promotion rivals Glamorgan at the Rose Bowl yesterday. Brown accumulated 90, his best score since making 102 in the second match of the season against Leicestershire. With Derek Kenway reaching his first fifty in 16 innings, Hampshire ended on 317 for 7 after Shane Warne had elected to bat.

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