Worcestershire 304 Surrey 42-0: Kumble helps Surrey keep rivals in check

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The Independent Online

There was no doubt who had the better day when first met second here. Surrey had Worcestershire in a right old spin denying their closest rivals a couple of vital batting bonus points.

Traditionally New Road might have been expected to suit a seamer such as Martin Bicknell, but he was not playing - indeed his retirement will be announced today.

He has taken up the post of master in charge of cricket at Charterhouse School in Surrey, having played just a handful of Championship matches this summer for the county for whom he has taken more than 1,000 wickets since 1986.

So Surrey had to turn to a pair of leg-spinners, Anil Kumble and Ian Salisbury. Kumble, the Indian Test bowler, claimed the lion's share of the wickets, registering his second successive five-wicket haul and taking his tally in his third Championship match to 17 victims.

Worcestershire were handicapped by the absence through injury of their run machine Graeme Hick, who scored his 100th century for the countysix weeks ago. Worcestershire have offered to keep him on for another year, which would be his 24th season at New Road. He is thinking about it. But he is also thinking over another proposal, from Derbyshire. Their coach Dave Houghton, who held a similar post at Worcester in the mid-1990s, and is a fellow Zimbabwean and close friend of Hick, had a chat with the former England batsman when the two counties met at Chesterfield late last month.

Hick is 40, but said yesterday that he had no intention of hanging up his box and boots. "I've got no plans to retire at the end of this season. This year I feel I have played well and contributed to what we are doing. I am still motivated."

Houghton said: "We thought if he wanted to have another year or two somewhere else we wanted to be first in line." But Hick is understandably reluctant to leave the county he first played for in 1984.

Worcestershire at least had the services of the Australian Phil Jaques to count on. The New South Wales batsman is on a hot streak. He passed 50 for the 10th time in 14 innings and counts two double hundreds and a further century in his haul of more than 1,000 Championship runs.

Worcestershire expect this to be his last Championship match of the summer because he is wanted by Australia for a training camp and will fly back home on 22 August. Whether he returns to England after the end of the camp on 2 September is not known, but the pessimists at New Road are prepared for the worst.

Jaques will be sorely missed. Worcestershire have not lost a match with Jaques in the side, winning five of their previous seven games to move into second place behind Surrey in the Second Division table.