Limping Butcher saves Surrey

Kent 225 & 361 Surrey 360 & 160-6 Match drawn
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The Independent Online
Maybe Surrey were worried about missing their plane to Belfast yesterday evening - they play Ireland in the Benson and Hedges Cup today - but having been set a modest 227 for victory from what turned out to be 50 overs, they almost missed the boat and needed a disciplined seventh-wicket partnership from the injured Mark Butcher and Brendon Julian to save them from defeat.

Butcher, who needed a runner because he is suffering from a suspected hernia and may have to undergo an operation tomorrow, and Julian had to chart an unsteady course through 27 awkward overs of spin from Min Patel and Carl Hooper. They should be thankful Steve Marsh, the acting captain, decided not to bring back Martin McCague, Kent's hero of the day.

Having earlier frustrated the Surrey attack by scoring a career-best 63 not out in an obstinate three-hour innings, McCague ripped out the first four Surrey wickets.

At one point he had claimed 3 for 3 in 11 balls, accounting for Alistair Brown, Darren Bicknell and Alec Stewart. After tea, Graham Thorpe was added to his list of victims to give him a return of 4 for 33 off 10 overs.

Unfortunately, Marsh was unable to bring him back to apply further pressure after Hooper and Patel had dismissed Adam Hollioake and Chris Lewis cheaply. McCague's left elbow had been knocked by a lifter from Lewis and his arm stiffened up. By the time he could have come on to bowl it was felt that the ball had softened too much to cause more mayhem.

Instead Butcher, who had Brown as his runner, and Julian were able to pick their way carefully, although not without alarms, through a minefield of a final session.

Play had commenced an hour earlier to allow Surrey time to get to Heathrow to their flight. Martin Bicknell quickly sent back Graham Cowdrey and Julian Thompson to raise hopes of a very early finish. But over-confidence, the odd missed chance and some thoughtless bowling allowed McCague, who deserved a victory for his all-round effort, and Patel to wriggle free and add 89 for the ninth wicket.

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