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July 21, 2000
"So - who do these spinners think they are heh."
Martin Bicknell has over three days annihilated the Leicestershire batting almost single handed, despite the presence of Saqlain and Salisbury in the Surrey attack. Bowling with the pace aggression and precision that are now his trademarks Bicknell gave a lesson in quick bowling on a decent English wicket to Phil DeFreitas and all three of the young quicks on display, Hollioake junior, Carl Greenidge and James Ormond (who impressed with his own six wicket haul on Thursday). The fact that six of his victims bowled or lbw and all but one of the others taken at the wicket or in the cordon (the remaining scalp was Stevens caught and bowled in the first innings) serves to underline the quality of his bowling is a series of remarkable, attacking spells.
His figures, 7-72 and 9-47 take him way out in front of the country's leading wicket takers with 52 for 854 (ave 16.42) from eleven games and take Surrey's formidable bowling attack to the amazing statistic of four ten wicket hauls and eleven fivefers from those same eleven games. These remarkable statistics from their leading bowlers - Bicknell, Tudor, Saqlain and Salisbury have powered Champions Surrey to the top of the first division table along with some fine support bowling especially from Carl Greenidge and the Hollioake brothers.
Their batsmen have so far produced seven centuries and fifteen fifties (including Bicknell's own three) in the competition this summer despite the international duties of Graham Thorpe and Alec Stewart.
Martin Bicknell has enjoyed two seasons of almost unalloyed success - last year he amassed 71 wickets and 432 runs in the championship despite not scoring a century or claiming a fivefer - this year he is on course to better both totals even if he receives a test call as a reward for his regular sub twenty bowling and twenty five plus batting averages. Martin Bicknell has also made himself useful to Surrey as a fine outfielder.
In 1956 (when Surrey had an even more feared pair of spinners) Tony Lock took 16-83 to destroy Kent at Blackheath and, of course the great Jim Laker obliterated Australia with his worlds best of 19-90 for England at Old Trafford.
It is noteworthy that his colleagues Ali Brown and Ian Salisbury in what has been alleged to be a one player team hold the highest individual total (Brown's 295 not out) and second best single innings figures (Sali's 8-60) so far this season. Surrey have also achieved the largest winning margin of an innings and 213 runs. The one player in question (the affable and highly talented Pakistani off spinner Saqlain Mushtaq whom Bickell displaces at the county championship's leading wicket taker) is however the only player to have achieved five fifefers in the competition this season.