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Bowl-out robs bitter Bears

Warwickshire were knocked-out of the Twenty20 Cup when Surrey won a sudden death bowl out in a quarter-final tie that had long since been reduced to a farce.

It was nervewracking, it was contentious, and in the end it was simply painful.

Warwickshire were knocked-out of the Twenty20 Cup when Surrey won a sudden death bowl out in a quarter-final tie that had long since been reduced to a farce.

This was not a good day for the game of cricket. It is a sport played by professionals and run by buffoons.

The original match " finished" with no-one - and I mean no-one - knowing the result. A crowd of nearly 9,000 bewildered and uninformed spectators were then treated to the vision of players, officials, umpires and scorers arguing - sometimes vehemently - on the outfield. It was, perhaps, the most entertaining moment of a surreal evening.

In a rain affected game, Warwickshire were set 118 to win in 15 overs on the Duckworth-Lewis formula. Finishing on 117 for eight, the umpires decided that the game would be decided on a bowl-out.

Surrey, however, refused to play ball. They argued with the umpires for more than 30 minutes, insisting that a tie is not possible under Duckworth-Lewis.

They had some cause for complaint. Surrey had been told - incorrectly - by the umpires before the final delivery that Warwickshire required three to win. So when Dewald Pretorius was only able to scamper two, they understandably thought they had won.

Under the ECB's rules for Twenty20, however, ties are allowed in quarter and semifinals. And in that circumstance, the match is to be decided by a bowl out.

The umpires, the hugely experienced David Constant and Allan Jones, who is chairman of the first-class umpires association, unforgiveably, did not know the rules.

But ECB operations manager, Alan Fordham, did and threatened to eliminate Surrey unless they returned to the field.

So, both teams returned to the middle for a bowl-out it. After the first round, with five bowlers from each side delivering two balls apiece, the stumps had been hit just twice each. Heath Streak and Pretorius were on target for Warwickshire and Tim Murtagh and Azhar Mahmood for Surrey. Dougie Brown, Neil Carter and Alex Loudon missed on both of their attempts, with Carter delivering a near beamer with his first. Nerves, no doubt, played a major part.

That meant that the game went to "sudden death". Pretorius and Azhar hit on their attempts, but when Streak, who had not been deemed fit enough to bowl in the game previously, missed and Murtagh hit, Surrey progressed.

Clear? Thought not. But what a disgrace that such a showpiece occasion should be reduced to such a farce. Nobody was sure, nobody was accountable and nobody emerged with any credit.

Except, perhaps, Warwickshire. They had the rough end of every decision in this game, but retained their control and their dignity while Surrey's tempers frayed, and took their disappointment with phlegmatic aplomb.

Certainly Surrey can count themselves very fortunate to be let off by the umpires for a slow over rate. The last over began at least four minutes late which should, according to the regulations, have resulted in a six-run penalty. The umpires made various excuses for their lack of action afterwards, but nothing was announced to the crowd.

Warwickshire, however, will rue an uncharacteristically shabby performance in the field.

Though some of their bowling was excellent - Jonathan Trott and Alex Loudon in particular - they let themselves down with a couple of dropped catches and some poor ground fielding that probably cost at least a dozen runs.

Perhaps they will also reflect that it was a mistake to insert Surrey upon winning the toss.

It meant that Warwickshire were sentenced to bat in some appallingly murky light and the confusion of a DL run-chase was always a danger.

Surrey deserve some credit, too. The hostility of their opening bowlers ensured Warwickshire were always behind the rate and the fine pick-up and throw from substitute fielder Chris Murtagh to run-out Nick Knight was a match-turning moment.

Only when Trevor Penney was at the crease did Warwickshire look likely to win. He drove two sixes off the spinners and kept his side up with the rate until being well caught in the deep by the nerveless Murtagh.

With 14 needed off the final over, Frost and Pretorius both struck boundaries to take the game to the wire. But it was all to no avail. Salve helices pariah inure paleoserology evangelistic?
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source - icbirmingham.co.uk

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