Rixon flies through the clouds over Surrey's win

Surrey 444 and 425-4 dec v Glamorgan 345 and 248: Surrey win by 276 runs
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The Independent Online

Surrey's players looked as though they had hardly a care in the world, scything through Glamorgan's middle and lower batting order to win at a canter.

Surrey's players looked as though they had hardly a care in the world, scything through Glamorgan's middle and lower batting order to win at a canter.

This shows that looks can be misleading. Although Steve Rixon, their coach, denies it, Surrey's players are surely bothered by the conclusions of Mickey Stewart's internal inquiry into who tampered with the ball twice nine days ago against Nottinghamshire. The report will be delivered to the England and Wales Cricket Board tomorrow, at which point a complicated sentencing procedure will begin.

Surrey were saying little about their inquiry yesterday, but one impression from the dressing-room is a mixture of foreboding and resignation. However, the fragile case for the defence made a brief appearance in Rixon's post-match press conference when he suggested that ball-tampering is a common offence and Surrey's misfortune is to have been caught out at a time when umpires have been told to take it seriously.

"It's like a lot of things, if people line you up and there's an issue they want to make a federal case out of, whoever gets caught in the act, so to speak, will be the first to be hammered, and it's unfortunate that we're probably the ones in the spotlight at the moment," Rixon said.

Rixon was in Australia for personal reasons when the charge of ball-tampering was made, but he was back in time to "have his five cents' worth" before the inquiry, and then to advise the players not to talk about it during the Glamorgan game. "When things get into tough situations and there's a bit of controversy, that's when you dig in. We've not had a problem at all. It's been put on the back burner."

However, the back burner is very hot. Surrey's season had begun to improve with yesterday's win - their second against Glamorgan this chilly spring - and a points deduction, for example, would be a damaging setback.

The win against Glamorgan came in a rush in the half-hour after David Hemp was out at 12.10pm. Hemp had scored 95, taking advantage of a good wicket and two dropped catches, although he was undone by Mohammad Akram's steep and unexpected bounce and was caught off his gloves. That gave Surrey the momentum they lacked while Hemp and Michael Powell added 171 for the third wicket.

Powell had been the victim of a marvellous, leaping one-handed catch by Martin Bicknell in the gully, and when they were gone, so was Glamorgan's resistance.

Rikki Clarke, who has so far promised more than he has delivered, had scored 84 in Surrey's first innings, and now he knocked Jonathan Hughes's off and middle stumps out of the ground, as Hughes shouldered his bat. Darren Thomas was caught behind and David Harrison lost his off stump to Clarke next ball. The hat-trick ball, however, was a full toss that was hit square for four by Dean Cosker.

At the other end, Akram was even more effective, taking four wickets (for 63) to Clarke's three (for 46), and a match that, at midday, Surrey suspected they would have to fight long into the afternoon to win, was over at 12.40pm, in time for an early lunch.

Glamorgan have lost four straight Championship games but Rixon was the one who refused to write them off. He pointed out that they were missing Matthew Elliott, Matthew Maynard, Simon Jones and Alex Wharf. He forbore to point out that Surrey were missing Graham Thorpe (back for the Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy this week), Mark Butcher (not back until the middle of June) and two overseas players.

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