The speed with which the Kent and Surrey batsmen made up for the loss of two hours play at the start of the day bordered on the indecent, although the fact that 15 wickets fell should not spell trouble for the home team.
It was swing, and much of it late, rather than the pitch, which accounted for the demise of so many batsmen. And amid all the uncertainty of the batting there were a couple of certainties thrown in. The first being that Martin Bicknell will be on this winter's Ashes tour to Australia.
True, it will be as a tour guide for a specialist travel company, rather than as an England bowler, because here is another certainty: whatever he achieves with ball and bat this summer – and last year the Surrey bowler completed the all-rounder's double of 500 runs and 50 wickets for the second season running – the England selectors will not even run a pencil line under his name.
His age (33) and a reputation for being injury-prone (unwarranted, since he has now gone seven seasons without so much as a pain, let alone a strain) militate against adding to his two Test caps. So it follows that his 6 for 42 against Kent will probably go more or less unnoticed, at least as far as Test selection goes.
It will not matter that it was the 36th time in his distinguished career that Bicknell has taken five or more wickets in an innings. And it is a banker that few people except Surrey die-hards, the odd anorak and the bowler himself will be aware that those half dozen victims completed the set for Bicknell – he has now taken five or more in an innings against every county bar his own.
His was a real top-and-tail job as well. The openers David Fulton and Robert Key were soon followed back into the dressing room by Kent's third man Ed Smith. After some fine bending of the back by James Ormond (three wickets) and Ed Giddins (one) Bicknell returned to whip out the remaining three in a 17-ball burst. The sole source of resistance came from Paul Nixon, with a gritty half-century.
Bicknell was in action a lot sooner than planned when Surrey began their reply – and lost their first five wickets in next to no time. Out came the hero to help save Surrey blushes with the bat, in partnership with Alistair Brown, who had savagely smacked his way to the verge of half-century off 43 balls by the close.
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