Surrey take command

Surrey 211 and 366-6 Lancashire 145
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The Independent Online
You would have to go a long way to find a team more comprehensively outplayed or so thoroughly fed up than Lancashire were here yesterday. When rain drew a veil over a mediocre bowling performance, Surrey were, incredibly on this pitch,432 runs ahead on a day when another 11 wickets fell.

Brendon Julian made 109 of them, his first Championship century occupying 109 balls with 13 fours and five sixes, with the last 50 or so savaged off even more disillusioned bowlers after Lancashire had thought he had been caught on the boundary for 66.

Nick Speak held his steepling hook off Glen Chapple just inside the ropes and had the presence of mind to release the ball to the waiting Steve Titchard before crossing the line. It appeared Titchard had thus completed the catch, but the umpires had enough doubt to give Julian the benefit.

Lancashire could hardly claim the incident ruined their day because they were already more than 300 runs adrift. Any dressing-room inquest should have concerned the proliferation of half-volleys and long hops their bowlers produced on a surface already classed as "below average" by the umpires.

No further action will be taken by the Test and County Cricket Board, on the advice of their pitch inspector, Harry Brind, who was present yesterday. If anything, it was Lancashire's bowlers who were breaking up and having picked up their last five wickets for 17 runs, Surrey could hardly have believed what followed.

Darren Bicknell and Mark Butcher rattled up 96 from 15 erratic overs. As Mike Watkinson cast around desperately for someone to bowl length and line, he found himself without first Peter Martin (back spasm) and then Ian Austin (thigh strain), both no doubt taking no chances in view of next week's NatWest semi-final against Yorkshire.

Once Julian got into his stride attacking small boundaries, his second 50 occupied only 24 balls. To their credit, Lancashire joined the applause for his century, and when the weather closed in Surrey must have been contemplating something no one had thought likely in this game - a declaration.

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