Surrey heap humiliation on champions

Yorkshire 140 and 202 Surrey 510 Surrey win by an innings and 168 runs
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The Independent Online

Since winning the Championship last September, Yorkshire lost to Surrey by an innings and 46 runs, to relegated Essex by 51 runs, lost all five pre-season tour matches and yesterday afternoon went down to one of the heaviest home defeats in their history. This was ignominy.

Add the scandal of the missing £90,000 from the club shop, it is no surprise to hear mutterings from members about an Extraordinary General Meeting. They were unconvinced by the reasons given for David Byas's departure, they had been unhappy with team selections and they are now angry.

Given that, for various reasons, Darren Gough, Craig White, Michael Vaughan, Matthew Hoggard and Antony McGrath were unavailable (while Surrey fielded nine Test players). There were still alternatives: Richard Dawson and Vic Craven were on call, Richard Blakey could have moved up the order and Simon Guy, who scored 92 for the second XI this week, could have played as wicketkeeper. That Gough, White and McGrath might be ready for one or both of next week's Benson & Hedges matches is of little comfort. One-day trophies are still regarded as small currency in these parts. Whether this has got through to Wayne Clark and Darren Lehmann, coach and captain, is a crucial question.

The two Australians did not endear themselves to local television audiences by their eve-of-season declaration that their job, said with a smile, was to produce players for England. True, but it is Yorkshire who are actually paying them to produce winning teams.

Yorkshire's second innings, torpedoed twice on Thursday evening, resumed on 0 for 2 when the rain and near gale abated at 1.25pm. The pitch, offering variable bounce, was no help to Yorkshire's confidence.

The nightwatchman Ryan Sidebottom bludgeoned two boundaries before being comprehensively skittled. Lehmann suffered a rare double failure, playing back and offering a tame return catch. Michael Lumb's attacking instinct ended in a slip catch, Gary Fellows was undone by a skidder, while Gavin Hamilton, a batsman on hot bricks, ought to be allowed to find some form in the second team.

Chris Taylor and Blakey unknowingly steered Yorkshire past the shadow of their heaviest defeat by an innings and 272 at The Oval in 1898, their stand of 49 in 17 overs being interrupted by rain. Taylor confirmed his temperament as an opener, while Blakey's resolute knock ended at first slip.

That God has a sense of humour had been confirmed earlier when the Dickie Bird clock, on the West Stand, was unveiled by the club president, Robin Smith, before play began. After a month of brilliant weather, bad light would have prevented a start and at the exact moment of the ceremony a sheet of rain passed across the ground. Said Dickie: "Future England and Yorkshire captains long after I have gone will be adjusting their tactics by this clock''.

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