Strauss blames draw on a Surrey crawl

Middlesex 370 & 218-2 Surrey 568

Match drawn
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The Independent Online

This was a damp squib, which can be put down partly to the weather and partly to an uncharacteristically subdued Surrey batting performance. It was a missed opportunity for Surrey but there was an apparent lack of desire or, remarkably, an inability, to push the scoring along.

The Middlesex captain, Andrew Strauss, said as much afterwards. "I think the Surrey batsmen could have shown a bit more ambition in the last hour and a half on Sunday." That was when they crawled through the 500s, sometimes at a single an over.

Add that slow scoring to the little matter of the weather which cost 44 overs yesterday and you have a recipe for a classic County Championship match - a game that meandered to an aimless finish. Not exactly the way Championships are won; nor is it the stuff of which winning Test teams are made, while it is utterly alien to the aims of the Twenty20 version of the game, which promotes, among other things, the dynamism of this great summer pastime.

At least Middlesex were able to show that they are toughening up. Ben Hutton's first-innings hundred was not merely gritty - it was run through with class.

Second time around, Strauss and his opening partner Sven Koenig compiled a century stand - their third of the season, their highest in the championship and their 10th in all first-class matches since they were brought together last summer - to go with a solid start in the first innings.

The end was already in view when Strauss, his concentration perhaps beginning to wander towards post-match activity, received a ball from the leg spinner Ian Salisbury. It popped up on him and he was unable to arrest his shot - a turn - and Mark Butcher at leg slip took a simple catch.

Strauss was a frustrating five runs short of three figures, but it was still a sizeable contribution to the 186-run stand. It was the second time he has been out in the nineties and it was a disappointing end to a near-three hour sojourn at the crease.

Koenig also fell some 20 minutes later after a muscular innings that included two swept sixes in one Salisbury over.

In the end it was all academic. The morning rain and afternoon showers washed away any hopes of an exciting finish, but the draw leaves Surrey on top of the First Division by half a dozen points from Sussex, with Lancashire lurking 18 points off the lead, but crucially with a game in hand.

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