Smith takes away Surrey's top billing

Worcestershire 219-6 Surrey 140 Worcs win by 79 runs
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The Independent Online

An outstanding performance by the Worcestershire captain Ben Smith, who scored an unbeaten 93, and equally admirable bowling feats from Kabir Ali and Matt Mason put the skids under Surrey and helped nudge them off the top of the National League First Division table.

Despite a typically belligerent offering from Smith's opposite number, Adam Hollioake, the Royals' total proved too much for one man to overcome. There were shades of Surrey's dramatic collapse and ignominious exit against Derbyshire in the Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy quarter-final in June.

It has not been a happy Guildford Festival for Surrey with the weather forcing a draw in their County Championship match against Middlesex, which is likely to cost them their lead in that competition, and yesterday's sad performance against a hostile Worcestershirein the 45-over game.

As admirably as they bowled when restricting the Royals to an unremarkable score by latter-day National League standards, the Surrey batting was no match for the fire of Kabir, who jolted the leaders with four wickets in his opening five overs.

His fellow opening bowler, Nantie Hayward, did his bit at the other end, conceding just 10 runs in his opening four overs when the cream of Surrey's attacking batting was at the crease.

Alistair Brown and Mark Ramprakash were the first of Kabir's victims, the former caught at slip, the latter caught behind. Scott Newman and James Benning, both making their first senior appearances of the season (other than in the Twenty20 Cup) soon followed.

Newman did get into double figures, his score of 15 being matched by Rikki Clarke. But after Clarke went, neither Jon Batty nor Martin Bicknell managed to keep Hollioake company for very long.

Eventually captain Hollioake left his ship, immediately after he had pulled Mason over midwicket for six, becoming one of the Australian's four victims. It was left to Saqlain Mushtaq, who had not enjoyed much success with the ball, to take Surrey to three figures, which he did with gusto, smacking an entertaining, unbeaten 27.

Earlier, James Ormond had picked up three wickets and his county cap, although even he could not remove Smith, who proved invincible coming in at the fall of the second wicket and gradually stepping on the gas in a partnership of 87 with Andrew Hall, the South African one-day international all-rounder.

Smith's 122-ball innings, with 10 fours, was complemented by useful contributions from former Surrey man Gareth Batty and veteran David Leatherdale. Respectability - and security, as it turned out - was attained.