Stewart steers Surrey to spoils

Glamorgan 159-9 Surrey 161-3 Surrey win by seven wickets
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The Independent Online
The monkey is finally off their backs. Surrey lifted the Sunday League title with an emphatic victory over Glamorgan to end 14 barren years when the trophy cupboard at The Oval has lain bare. There is still much left to do to wrap up victory in the Championship match against the Welsh county and pull off what would be a superb double, but at least the talented Surrey men have finally won some silver to dispel the clouds of the last decade and a half.

Alec Stewart, the captain, was there at the finish, although the privilege of hitting the winning runs went to Nadeem Shahid. But the foundation for that victory was laid by some destructive batting from Alistair Brown and his opening partner Mark Butcher. "It's a great relief to get over this hurdle," Stewart said. "The achievements of other Surrey sides, including the great one of the 1950s, which won eight Championships, has put a lot of pressure on subsequent teams. We've always had a talented side but this year everyone has matured and become responsible for their own game."

Brown bludgeoned and Butcher, well, butchered the listless Glamorgan bowling. The pair had smacked 82 by the 13th over before the England off- spinner Robert Croft had Butcher lbw attempting to sweep. That sort of scoring rate has been the underlying feature of Surrey's 12 victories and was what helped them to the title. They finished equal on points with Nottinghamshire, but their vastly superior run rate carried them home.

With so many prodigious big-hitters and fine one-day players, they look unstoppable at their best. The only blip was Graham Thorpe, who just failed to stay the course, caught when three runs were needed for victory. The winning boundary came from Shahid off the bowling of Tony Cottey who, by a neat twist, had hit the title-winning runs in the same competition three years ago for Glamorgan.

If the Glamorgan innings was not quite a capitulation, it was certainly not a great example of resistance. A full house was treated to a steady fall of wickets, which began in the fifth over when Adrian Dale had a slog at Martin Bicknell and was comfortably held by Joey Benjamin at mid- on. Steve James hung around until the 26th over, but could not get going and while he struggled for runs, others lost the struggle to keep their wickets.

David Hemp lost the thread, backing up too boldy against the long arm of Brendon Julian, whose throw from 25 yards easily beat the startled batsman and set Glamorgan wobbling. Alistair Dalton offered a straightforward catch to Thorpe at slip and supporters began to question the captain Matthew Maynard's decision to bat at six instead of three.

Typically, Cottey had a go with 41 off 49 balls but Maynard had been and gone by then and while Ottis Gibson may have settled his difference of opinion with the county, which resulted in being omitted from the Championship match, he was not able to sort out the Surrey attack.

Not surprisingly, given the season he has had in limited-overs cricket, which has earned him international recognition for England, Adam Hollioake once again was the pick of the attack. Having already broken the Sunday league record for wickets taken in a season, the Melbourne-born Hollioake picked up three more wickets to take his total to 39 and a prize of pounds 3,000 for an impressive achievement.