Yorkshire in fear of Saqlain's assault

Surrey 278 and 281 Yorkshire 204 and 50-1
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The Independent Online

It was not Yorkshire's day. It began with the loss of two runs, after Ed Giddins disputed a no ball on Thursday. It continued with the confirmation that Ryan Sidebottom would not bowl again in the match because of a groin strain, leaving David Byas without a specialist capped bowler. It ended with Surrey expecting Saqlain Mushtaq to bowl them to victory today.

Things might have been worse had not a burst of rain taken 42 overs from the middle of the day for, had Surrey had the extra time for batting, they might have declared earlier and been at Yorkshire's mercurial batting order that much sooner. A full day's play today must surely bring a Surrey victory which would not, immediately, affect Yorkshire's lead, but would serve notice that the current champions are now in the mood to burn up August ­ and the Tykes have still to play at The Oval.

Most of the morning's bowling was done by two players in the first months of their first-class careers, Richard Dawson and Steve Kirby, and both bowled straight enough to ensure that Surrey never broke clear. Alistair Brown, who has given Yorkshire some fearful thrashings in the past, was playing with a broken finger and mistimed to mid-off in the second over.

Gavin Hamilton replaced Kirby just before and for a long time after the rain and must have felt the irony in this season when he has often been kept out by England's insistence that Craig White had to be played in the hope of running him into form. Yesterday Hamilton became both spearhead bowler and team all-rounder simultaneously.

Gary Butcher, trying to force the pace, nicked one to slip, Hamilton also dismissing Ben Hollioake and Ian Salisbury in an impressive burst with a ball 75 overs old, a hint that he is not bowled enough.

Yorkshire's silver lining was the 36.5 overs from their off-spinner Richard Dawson, 21 today. He finished with 6 for 98 and, although the pundits may call for more variety, and more loop, the fact is no one could recall, off-hand, the last time a Yorkshire spinner took six wickets on this square.

Yorkshire began their unlikely march towards a monumental 356 just after five o'clock and their latest experimental opening pair survived, with not a little luck on Chris Taylor's part, for 14 overs before Taylor, a protégé of Raymond Illingworth's at Farsley, was pinned by Giddins.

Saqlain tested the surface from the Grandstand End before Surrey turned back to seam but in last evening's clearer skies there was less swing.

What has improved greatly is the spirit between these two teams; glacial at Scarborough last year, there now seems to be, a few verbals from the fast bowlers apart, a happier mood summed up by the walking without waiting of Ian Salisbury and Ben Hollioake.

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