Surrey blush over Bevan

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Yorkshire 305 & 387

Surrey 197 & 230-5

Yorkshire look likely to go to the top of the table tomorrow after setting Surrey a target which left the visitors with red faces and perhaps even rubbed their noses in the dirt.

Yet despite needing nearly 500 to win or to survive five sessions to draw, they have been saved from complete humiliation by Mark Butcher. While Michael Bevan stoically compiled his highest score for his county in the manner of a Yorkshire opener now departed to the BBC commentary box, Butcher employed the off-breaks he has only practised for a week to keep Yorkshire's lead just within the bounds of decency.

Then as opening bat in a team weakened by duties of both international (Graham Thorpe and Chris Lewis) and matrimonial (Alec Stewart's pregnant wife is in hospital) natures, he anchored Surrey's attempt to stave off defeat with a century.

Surrey spent the morning waiting for a declaration and watching Bevan. The Australian was never troubled until he ran out of partners on 160. He patiently accumulated singles interspersed with 17 unspectacular boundaries in his five-hour innings. A sweetly-timed sweep for four off Butcher took him to his previous best of 153 - also against Surrey - last year.

Yorkshire's declaration did not happen because of the transformation of Surrey's opening batsmen into a deadly spin duo. Butcher was ingenious in his line and length. Bevan struggled to reach several of his short, wide ones outside off-stump, but did manage a one-handed sweep for four off a leg-side full toss.

Butcher collected three wickets, all with the help of the Hollioake brothers' hands. His first was the most important as Rich- ard Blakey, who had already pul- led the recognised spinner Rich- ard Pearson into the car park for six, looked well set on 45. Darren Bicknell also spun out Rich- ard Stemp on the penultimate ball before lunch - and the expected declaration.

With a lead of 496, Hartley fired in and should have had Butcher caught at first slip by Alex Morris in the fourth over. It was a costly miss as Butcher did not offer another chance until on 88. He top-edged a sweep off Stemp, but the ball spilled out of Craig White's hands and over the boundary for six. By then Yorkshire's attack had removed Bicknell, who returned a full toss to Michael Vaughan, and Adam Hollioake, who had started his innings by smashing Chris Silverwood on to the pavilion roof.

Butcher's resistance ended on 110 when he spooned Hartley to mid-on. He might have spared Surrey blushes but he only let in David Ward to succumb to a lift- er from Darren Gough, and by lasting for more than three hours he merely extended the agony of defeat into a fourth day.

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