The gloom spells only doom for Surrey

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The Independent Online


reports from The Oval

Surrey 221 & 239 Lancashire 392 & 19-1

Lancashire were left a tantalising 50 runs away from victory and 24 more points towards their Championship challenge by the weather last night. Perhaps the loss of Stephen Titchard shortly after they began the chase for the paltry 69 needed for victory made them think twice when they were offered the light.

Jason Gallian had just pulled a Carl Rackemann lifter off his nose for six, but when the umpires made the offer, it was taken without hesitation. There remains a whole day for them to win, so why risk further wickets and possible injury when they have already established their superiority?

At least Surrey made more of a fist of things second time around, although it was still an abject batting performance. Symbolic dark clouds gathering over The Oval heightened the sense of gloom as an unhappy season draws to a sorry conclusion.

Andy Smith's second fifty of the season was the highlight of their second innings, but having reached the mark, he then fell next ball to the sort of wild shot that has twice now cost Alistair Brown his place in the side. Then the acting captain, Adam Hollioake, looked disgusted with himself when his hour-long sojourn came to an end, Gallian teasing the crowd with a display of juggling at slip.

Martin Bicknell had done his best to halt the inevitable during the morning, when Lancashire looked set for a massive first-innings lead, but even his devastating spell of 4 for 6 in 24 balls was ultimately in vain.