Thorpe leads thrashing with classy century

A masterful, unbeaten century by Graham Thorpe helped the leaders, Surrey, annihilate Nottinghamshire, their closest rivals in the Second Division of the National League hereyesterday and race into an eight-point lead in the table.

A masterful, unbeaten century by Graham Thorpe helped the leaders, Surrey, annihilate Nottinghamshire, their closest rivals in the Second Division of the National League hereyesterday and race into an eight-point lead in the table.

The Outlaws were comprehensively outplayed from start to finish as Surrey moved inexorably to their 13th consecutive win in all cricket this summer.

After the destruction wreaked on their attack by Thorpe they found themselves undone by a bottle blond. Jason Ratcliffe is no Maid Marian, but, sporting recently bleached hair, he reduced the Nottinghamshire batting to a quivering mess with three wickets and the catch to account for the dangerman John Morris.

What with Saqlain Mushtaq again weaving his magic with his mesmerising off-spin Nottinghamshire were in a shambolic state by the end.

Only Jason Gallian, the Nottinghamshire captain, showed any fight, but his brave 42 off 47 balls did not receive any support. He and Darren Bicknell, the latter returning to his home club ground having left Surrey at the end of last season, got Nottinghamshire off to a useful start, but once Jonathan Batty's throw had run out his former colleague the rest of the Outlaws were quickly disbanded.

Saqlain picked up his three wickets for very few in 11 balls and then the Hollioake brothers, Adam and Ben, mopped up what was left of the opposition and it was all over with almost 10 overs to spare.

But the day belonged to the England left-hander Thorpe, who reached his highest score in the competition, his 126 not out, scored at almost exactly a run a ball, contained 14 boundaries off 127 deliveries.

There was a useful spin-off as well, since it did the collection in this his benefit year no harm at all. Thorpe's three figure effort was more than matched by a four figure sum (£1,108) from a large and appreciative crowd. He comes from just down the road at Farnham so the local hero could not have picked a more appropriate place to record his fifth hundred in this competition.

There was just no hiding place for the despairing Nottinghamshire bowlers or fielders as he and Ian Ward, who scored his second successive fifty in the competition, put on an imposing 139 runs in 27 untroubled overs.

The only time Thorpe's defences were breached was in the final over when Paul Franks yorked him off the free-hit ball, having bowled Adam Hollioake with the previous delivery - a no ball. The only way Surrey's day could have been made more perfect would have been if Martin Bicknell had taken the wicket he needed to reach 200 in the competition. His club would have been the ideal place at which to follow up his Championship heroics when he took 16 wickets in the match against Leicestershire last week. It was not to be, however, and in the grander scheme of things was a mere detail anyway.

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