Surrey left to regret caution

Surrey 382 and 246-6 dec Lancashire 194 and 112-3 Match drawn

This curious match had an extraordinary last day that ended with Surrey frustrated – and deprived of the First Division leadership by Leicestershire – and the hosts mightily relieved. If the Championship pennant does not return to the Oval this year, this game may be underlined in Surrey history.

This curious match had an extraordinary last day that ended with Surrey frustrated – and deprived of the First Division leadership by Leicestershire – and the hosts mightily relieved. If the Championship pennant does not return to the Oval this year, this game may be underlined in Surrey history.

The leaders, remember, had declined to enforce a follow-on when they enjoyed a lead of 188 on the first innings. Lancashire had been left to score 435 to win off a minimum of 116 overs, 20 of which were lost to rain on Sunday evening.

Morning showers prevented further play until 1 pm and cast doubts over any resumption, but Surrey had no intention of allowing Lancashire to escape a second defeat in a month. They came tumbling out of the Old Trafford pavilion with Martin Bicknell having a superb spell in damp, cloudy conditions. His dismissal of Alec Swann was a classic exercise, four balls moving away, the fifth cutting back sharply to trap him.

Lancashire might have suffered further before the rain returned, for Neil Fairbrother was dropped in the slips off successive balls from Bicknell.

The afternoon downpour was so persistent that the Surrey supporters' coach loaded up and headed back to the Oval. Three inspections followed, the Surrey captain Ian Ward's body language making it clear he intended to hang on while there was the slightest chance of play and his patience was rewarded at 4.30 with 24.5 overs remaining.

Mark Chilton was leg before in Jimmy Ormond's uncompleted over and Fairbrother soon departed in similar fashion. Ormond was warned for too many bumpers, Bicknell for running on the pitch and when 18 balls from Saqlain Mushtaq failed to make further inroads, Surrey called it a day with eight overs remaining.

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