From red to rosy

Surrey 239 and 528-9 dec Notts 324 and 37-2
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TO CONCEDE one double hundred to a player may be regarded as a misfortune; to allow the same player to repeat the feat a year later could be regarded as carelessness. And Nottinghamshire could be accused of that after allowing Darren Bicknell to achieve the feat yesterday.

Surrey's declaration left the opener eight runs short of his unbeaten career best - made at Trent Bridge last year - after almost 10 hours at the crease, but at 228 not out - the second double hundred of his career - there could be no complaint.

There has never been much wrong with Bicknell's timing, as a career average of more than 40 testifies, but yesterday it was immaculate. He needed a big score and where better to make your first hundred of the summer than on your home club ground? It is a feat he has achieved once before against Sussex in 1990, but this, the highest at Guildford, was more satisfying; proof that the left-hander has returned to the form that has taken him past 1,000 runs in six previous seasons.

This year he has had to cope with a back strain, a dearth of runs and being axed for the Middlesex match. Yesterday the thoroughly professional Bicknell rose above it all. They say that when Bicknell is in the pink then all is rosy at Surrey. They began this match very much in the red, bottom of the table and in the middle of an injury crisis.

But the Bicknell factor was borne out when Nottinghamshire came out to chase a mammoth 444. Surrey's ailing attack, shorn of Joey Benjamin and already without Bicknell's brother Martin, were clearly lifted by his effort as Carl Rackemann struck with two wickets in 12 balls.

There are those who regard Bicknell as a grafter, but he can mix it too and there were moments yesterday when he treated the Nottinghamshire bowlers with far less respect than he and his team-mates had shown when they observed a minute's silence in memory of Harold Larwood before the start.