Surrey show cutting edge

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Kent 225; Surrey 88-3

At last the young blades of the Surrey attack appear to have an edge, which they used to good effect as they cut deeply into Kent's batting. Martin Bicknell, whose history of injuries probably runs into several volumes, had taken two wickets before the brave few had taken their seats.

It did not quite set a trend for the day, but it certainly woke everyone up to the fact that things are moving in the right direction on the pitch as well as off it. Unfortunately Surrey were on the receiving end when it came to their turn with the bat, losing their opener, Darren Bicknell, Graham Thorpe and their captain, Alec Stewart, with not too many on the board.

However, the Surrey batting runs deep, they have plenty of time and talent to recover; the problems have been with the bowling, so it was refreshing to see Martin Bicknell whipping out Matthew Fleming and Trevor Ward with his fourth and fifth deliveries of a chilly morning.

When the rejuvenated Chris Lewis accounted for Carl Hooper with a delivery that the West Indies all-rounder appeared to lose sight of prior to it smacking into the base of his stumps off the bottom of his bat, Surrey looked ready to roll over last season's wooden spoonists very cheaply.

However David Fulton and Graham Cowdrey picked Kent out of the mire with a 75-run fourth-wicket stand, before the latter's attempted sweep at the off-spinner Richard Pearson saw him bowled. In the next over a Lewis lifter had Fulton caught by Alistair Brown in the slips, a dismissal which signalled lunch.

After the interval a huge flock of pigeons caused irritating interruptions as they continued to gorge themselves on supposedly bird-proof grass seed, on an adjacent strip. In between Mark Ealham and Steve Marsh went a long way to repairing the damage. They added 88 before Marsh fell to a brilliant catch by Brown in the covers.

Ealham had just reached his half-century when he was bowled by Pearson stepping away to make room for an extravagant shot. After that the hawkish Surrey soon picked up maximum bowling points as the rest of the Kent doves subsided peacefully enough.

They gained some restitution when Martin McCague's unplayable rising ball just short of a length accounted for Darren Bicknell. Stewart was superbly taken at second slip by Hooper when Ealham got one to lift and leave him and Thorpe chopped on. But Mark Butcher and Surrey's man of the moment Brown helped put the Kent attack into perspective with a flurry of attacking strokes as they saw Surrey safely to the close.