Surrey scare the pigeons

Somerset 180 Surrey 181-7 Surrey win by three wickets
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The Independent Online
It is silly to be sensitive on Sundays. After coloured clothes, surely anything goes. None the less, Surrey's even braver new world on the Sabbath is, at first sight, faintly ridiculous and mildly embarrassing. In the end it almost got in the way of a good game of cricket which had a most dramatic finish.

It is all part of a worthwhile attempt to bring in the crowds and, who knows, in time it might work - and at least Surrey won.

Americans have the hype at baseball, Australians do it at World Series cricket, although on this evidence English cricket may not quite be able to do it on Sundays. Pop music, team songs, a hyped up PA announcer, a mascot and a shaggy Surrey Lion whose roar sounded more like terminal indigestion might be all right in front of a big crowd.

In front of empty stands it all reverberated a little too shrilly - there was no possibility even of a Mexican wave to help. The players looked conspicuous and uncomfortable, first, as Surrey took the field to their blaring team music and later when each batsman strolled out to the strains of Dire Straits, the Rolling Stones or Elton John, or whatever else they had chosen.

It was all a trifle too imposed and contrived. Massed crowds might have danced in the stands; odd groups of spectators scattered round the gas holder side of the ground were too self-conscious to indulge in any form of syncopation. In fact, the only effect of the music was to reduce the pigeon population and make those that stayed rather friskier.

The PA announcer found it necessary to tell us six times that the sun was shining, something that may not happen often in SE11 but enough surely for people to recognise it for what it is.

The pitch-side interviews we were promised before the start were inaudible, but with organisation these hiccups can be sorted out.

In the pavilion forecourt a clown, about 10ft tall on stilts and riding a tall bicycle, was dressed predominantly in yellow and the sign on his bike proclaimed him as Professor Crump. He was clearly only a distant relation of Northamptonshire's seam bowler of the 1960s, Brian Crump, who barely touched five foot in his stockinged feet.

It was perhaps unfortunate that the sign pointing to the Children's Play Area also pointed to the players entrance. No, it doesn't all quite work yet. But in a few weeks under a mid-season sun if Surrey continue winning, maybe the turnstiles will start clicking more meaningfully.

And the cricket was well worth watching. The Surrey Lions - for this is what they are now known as on Sundays - decided to field first and with all six bowlers among the wickets they kept Somerset to 180 on a good enough pitch. Only Richard Harden passed 50 and this seemed an eminently manageable target for the home side, but their main batsman got themselves into a tangle just as they had done in last week's championship game, and it was left to Chris Lewis to take them to victory. Opener Alistair Brown soon edged a wide drive; Graham Rose removed Alec Stewart and Mark Butcher; Adam Hollioake pushed at a wide one and was caught behind and Graham Thorpe was fifth out at 69 edging a short one from Andy Caddick into his stumps.

Nadeem Shahid and Lewis, who had been dropped at backward point when three, now added 51 in 67 balls. Shahid then edged Keith Parsons into his stumps and then Hollioake skyed Michael Burns to mid on. But by now Lewis was beginning to time the ball well. He drove Burns into the Pavilion for the day's only six and with Ian Salisbury he saw the Lions home with one ball left after eight had been needed from the last over. Lewis' 68 came in 64 balls.

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