Yorkshire's decline goes on

Yorkshire 172 Surrey 207-5

There are few doubts about the state Yorkshire are in – and that is a mess. Their position was underlined brutally when the reigning champions ventured into deepest Surrey yesterday, territory where no Yorkshire team has won since 1978.

There are few doubts about the state Yorkshire are in – and that is a mess. Their position was underlined brutally when the reigning champions ventured into deepest Surrey yesterday, territory where no Yorkshire team has won since 1978.

On this evidence the present side is unlikely to break that sequence during this match. They were out-bowled, out-batted and by the end of the season could be out of the first division after the championship leaders and pretenders to the crown put in the sort of collective performance that won them the title in 1999 and 2000.

By the close Surrey had pulled remorselessly away, the opener Jon Batty in confident mood looking for a third century of the summer and the captain Adam Hollioake bristling with positive intent at the other end.

The home side were not without their alarms, the form of Mark Ramprakash, echoing the British weather fronts, is unsettled and moving from high to low and back. He was out for his third first ball duck and fourth blank of the season, an inside edge knocking back his leg stump.

Ian Ward had departed the ball before, caught behind, and things were looking a little wobbly before the fearless Nadeem Shahid strode out, whacked his way to 45 and lifted Surrey out of trouble either side of tea.

Alistair Brown then hammered his way to a half century before falling a couple of balls later and three balls after that the intended nightwatchman, Ian Salisbury, finished his shift prematurely, playing on to give Gary Fellows a second wicket and Yorkshire a vestige of pride.

But the day was most definitely Surrey's and even if the sight of Martin Bicknell wandering aimlessly around his home ground with his right arm still encased in plaster had depressed the home fans, it was only short-lived.

Earlier, Rikki Clarke, already a proven class act with the bat, turned in easily his best performance with the ball picking up three good wickets with quality seam bowling. Likewise Ed Giddins, exploiting the pace and bounce of a hard Woodbridge Road pitch, did his bit with a summer's best of 3 for 48 and the pair received effective support from Saqlain Mushtaq and James Ormond.

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