Surrey go through the motions

Lancashire 592-4 dec Surrey 254-7
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The Independent Online
Two lessons have come from the first two days of what so far has been a conspicuously boring match, in spite of the presence of no less than 12 who have played Test cricket.

Firstly, the pitch for the Oval Test was extremely dry and bare at both ends - the product of freak weather conditions - yet produced a fascinating game and was infinitely preferable to this one which was exceedingly flat and dull.

Then, at a time when the battle rages between those who favour a two divisional system with promotion and relegation and those who want the County Championship left as it is, one has to say that this match could have hardly been a worse example of what can happen at the end of the season under the existing system.

Surrey began the season badly in spite of having high hopes, then in mid-season they started to play some quite decent cricket but they have left it too late to be a serious threat at the end. Now, for two days, they have not appeared to do anything more than go through the motions while waiting for the season to end.

Lancashire too have not had a good a year as they would have liked and although they have played the better cricket here, will be pleased to get next week's final fixture over with. With little at stake, the combined effort has been a good deal less than vibrant.

If this can happen in the penultimate round of matches in a game between two sides who are in seventh and thirteenth places respectively, there will certainly almost be a fair number of other no contests around the country.

One of the planks of Lord MacLaurin's platform is that a two-tier system with promotion and relegation will mean that many more of similar end- of-season contests will have much more point to them than they do now. Let us have two divisions for a probationary period, say three years, and then lets look at it again.

Lancashire went on until 20 minutes before lunch with Neil Fairbrother scoring the third century of the innings.

Surrey then began well before careless batting and, dare one way it, lack of interest cost wickets and left them needing 189 more runs with three wickets in hand to avoid the follow-on.