Worcestershire v Surrey, New Road, 4th day August 19, 2010

Batty row overshadows Shakib's six

George Dobell at New Road

Worcestershire 308 and 319 beat Surrey 259 and 130 by 238 runs
Scorecard

A collapse of rare ineptitude sentenced Surrey to their sixth loss of the championship campaign as they slid to a 238-run loss at New Road.

Surrey's batsmen, displaying a recklessness that would have embarrassed schoolboys, squandered their last six wickets for the addition of 18 runs in just 27 balls on the final morning. It meant they had lost all ten second-innings wickets in the space of just 86 balls.

The result was overshadowed, however, by an incident between Worcestershire supporters and Gareth Batty. Batty, who left Worcestershire at the end of last season, had been heckled throughout the match and, after his dismissal in Surrey's second innings, stopped several times on his way off the pitch to exchange words with spectators.

Following a brief visit to the dressing room to remove his pads, he reemerged, walked into seating area and sat down next to one of the more vocal critics. "What have I done to offend you," Batty began. After several minutes of heated conversation, Ian Salisbury, who is on the Surrey coaching staff, led Batty away. Batty was later spotted in tears being consoled by his team-mates.

Batty's feelings, if not his actions, are understandable. He served Worcestershire with distinction for eight years and, as recently as July last year, captained the county. He could never be accused of giving anything less than his best and he was hardly the only man to leave the club last year. Indeed, his Surrey team-mate, Steve Davies, made the same move but was warmly received here. The antipathy towards Batty, therefore is illogical and mean spirited. I understand that his mother was also the victim of some pretty caustic comments. There's no excuse for that.

As a professional, however, Batty has to develop a thicker skin. He is 32 years old and a veteran of 18 internationals for England. However understandable his actions, he would have been better served turning the other cheek. The criticism he took here is nothing compared to that endured by professional footballers.

Worcestershire's chairman, 'Percy' Price subsequently apologised to Batty on behalf of the club. "We're a friendly club," Price said. "We don't want to be known for this sort of thing. All our former players are welcome back and Gareth, who always gave his best, is a fine chap."

"It's quite sad," Chris Adams said afterwards. "It's quite sad that he wasn't afforded respect by the supporters after putting in long service here. It shows a lack of respect.

"He's a feisty lad anyway. He plays with a lot of passion and he wears his heart on his sleeve. He outs everything into his cricket.

"Exactly what was said, I don't know. But I'm sure that when he reflects on it, he'll be disappointed that he allowed himself to react.

"He just really wanted to do well. He's bowled fantastically at times this season but, Tremlett apart - he hasn't been backed up by the other bowlers."

Surrey actually started the final day rather well. Davies and Rory Hamilton-Brown thrashed 46 in the first five overs of the morning, with Hamilton-Brown hitting Matt Mason for 14 in three deliveries: two beautifully driven fours followed by a flick over square leg for six.

But if the aim was to be positive, it soon spilled over into recklessness. Davies, charging down the pitch and trying to hit Shakib Al Hasan over the top, succeeded only in lofting a catch to mid-off before, two balls later, Hamilton-Brown straight to the man on the long-off fence.

It was remarkably gormless cricket. As Adams said later: "There's no problem taking a positive approach. Hitting over the top to spread the field is fine. But, if you've spread the field and continue to play aerial shots, well, you're mad, aren't you?

"We've seven youngsters [under 25] in this side and they're learning what it means to be 'positive.' It doesn't mean you go out there and play reckless cricket. You can be positive in defence, too.

"But, I've been asked to do without an overseas player and, with a young side, you're going to get these peaks and troughs. They're going to make mistakes and they key is to learn from them. Those that learn the lessons will make it in the game; those that don't, won't. At the moment, if Ramprakash doesn't bat for three sessions, we under achieve.

"But the game wasn't lost on the last morning. We had them 100 for 5 in their first innings, but they scored 300 and, in the second innings, we let them score 180 in a session. We're far off where we want to be."

Shakib was the main beneficiary of Surrey's poor batting. Maintaining a calm head despite the early assault, he lured the batsmen into rash strokes by varying his pace and flight. It was his second five-wicket haul in three games and the 11th of his career.

Mason also bounced back to claim three wickets. If he was somewhat fortunate to win a leg-before decision against Stewart Walters - it looked far too high - he deserved the wickets of Matt Spriegel, back when he should have been forward, and Batty, who sliced a drive to point.

This win revives Worcestershire's promotion hopes. They are far from the finished article but, with players as young and talented as Alexei Kervezee and Moeen Ali in the side, they can look forward to the future with guarded optimism. It was also a fine start for new captain, Daryl Mitchell. He will not, however, have victory presented to him on a plate quite as easily as this very often.

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