Nixon patches up Kent

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Surrey have the patience of a team of Jobs once they have set their minds on it. Yesterday the long wait proved worthwhile as they unpicked an innings that had been painstakingly and carefully stitched together.

Robert Key and Ed Smith had grafted like a pair of tailors for almost two and a half hours, cutting, shaping and stitching the Kent reply, but it all threatened to come undone in the space of eight balls, when concentration flagged in the middle of a long, grinding day.

Indeed once the second-wicket pair were parted, the rest of the Kent batsmen got themselves in a right old tangle as the Surrey spin duo of Saqlain Mushtaq and Ian Salisbury wove some crafty spells.

But Kent never quite lost their grip, and Paul Nixon and Min Patel patched things up again late in the day to steer Kent into what may well prove to be a useful first-innings lead.

However, by virtue of having to bat last on a pitch that is beginning to show signs of turn, they look as if they will be in for an uncomfortable ride before they can salvage something from this match.

That Surrey were able to claw their way back into affairs was due, once again, to Martin Bicknell. Yesterday Surrey's version of Superman sprang to their rescue with a typically big-hearted performance that earned him the first four wickets to fall and certainly ended any hopes Kent might have had of building a substantial lead.

David Fulton was disposed of first thing by the man who, by mid-afternoon, was to become the country's leading wicket-taker. Bicknell sealed that milestone in dramatic fashion, first having Key leg before, then finding the edge of Andrew Symonds' bat before capping it off with the wicket of Smith.

Saqlain and Salisbury then threatened to run through the rest of the Kent innings as they picked off three more. They then ran into Nixon and Patel.