Surrey in a hurry

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The Independent Online

reports from The Oval

Middlesex 131; Surrey 132-2 Surrey won by eight wickets

Surrey are making a habit of wrapping up Sunday League matches in short time. Following their record effort against Leicestershire three weeks ago they were at it again yesterday. This time the leaders Middlesex were the victims of an unceremonious bundling aside.

After struggling to an inadequate score in a shade more than 33 overs, Middlesex were unable to shackle the free scoring Surrey men, for whom Darren Bicknell made an unbeaten half-century. Their target was reached with almost a dozen overs to spare.

Surrey had attracted a large crowd, around 5,000, but the bulk of the atmosphere (the jeers, cheers and more beers please) came from a happy knot of London Broncos players, guests of The Oval's sponsors. The rugby league men were particularly taken with David Ward, greeting his every touch of the ball in the field with raucous applause. When he took a catch to dismiss Owais Shah they went wild, bowing low in mock worship.

When Ward appeared with the bat, his six and two fours in a brisk unbeaten 22 were greeted even more loudly, although by this time his scrum of fans had turned their adoration to Phil Tufnell, on as a substitute for Mark Feltham early in Surrey's innings.

The hard work, if that is what it could be called, was done by Bicknell whose unbeaten 52 was his second half-century in the competition this summer and came from 86 balls with half a dozen boundaries.

Middlesex were rocked in the opening over when a fine glance by Paul Weekes was superbly taken down the leg side by Graham Kersey, thereafter the wickets fell regularly.

The honour of top scorer went to wides, all 21 of them. Poor Brendon Julian, who bears the burdensome - and, some would say, jinxed - title of overseas player at Surrey, sent down six in the first of his two overs, and one of those went for two.

Part of the reason for the wides is the way the white ball behaves. It has to be varnished to keep it dazzling and the result is a tendency to more prodigious swing. Even the Middlesex bowlers, a tidy lot this season, found the conditions exaggerated the effects of the ball and conceded seven wides (three runs coming off one delivery).

Ben Hollioake, with two catches and three wickets, was the pick of the Surrey attack. His brother Adam claimed 1 for 7, with Martin Bicknell taking 2 for 29.