Surrey seamers toil

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The Independent Online
In one sense, it was a sensational start to the season at The Oval. On the very first day, with more than a week of April to go, Surrey used two leg-spinners, Ian Salisbury and Nadeem Shahid, against some mostly determined Somerset batting.

In another, it was businessmuch as usual, on a slow pitch which was full of runs. Surrey's seam attack which had a somewhat boring, dilatory sameness about it, had a good work-out against a side unwilling to waste the advantage of batting first.

The influence of Somerset's new coach, Dermot Reeve, was easy to see. If he can persuade his players to make the most of their abilities, Somerset will win more than five Championship matches this year.

For 30 overs, Mark Lathwell cut out those impetuous flourishes which have so often got him into trouble, Peter Bowler, their new captain, batted with sense and responsiblity for nearly two and three-quarter hours and Richard Harden and Piran Holloway also put their heads down.

Surrey's four main seam bowlers, Martin Bicknell, Chris Lewis, Joey Benjamin, and Alex Tudor, all run in a long way and apart from Tudor in one spell before tea, did not look particularly threatening. They also bowled far too many no-balls contributing to the absurd total of 69 extras.

Four overs of Salisbury was the only variation from seam before lunch when he bowled Lathwell, who made the mistake of playing back to a top spinner. Salisbury had another 21 overs later in the day when the need for economy was least on his mind. As always he needs confidence to give the ball air and more of a tweak, when he will be a more dangerous bowler.

The game was left rather more in balance when, shortly before the end, Adam Hollioake, the fifth seamer, had Holloway caught behind and Mike Burns lbw in successive overs.

Surrey have appointed their former player Keith Medlycott as assistant coach, replacing Tony Pigott who left this month.