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Last Updated: Friday, 30 May, 2003, 10:27 GMT 11:27 UK
Surrey's lowest point
By Oliver Brett

In the middle of Essex's golden period, when they won nine trophies in seven years, came an extraordinary hour of cricket late on a May evening.

Exactly 20 years ago at the County Ground in Chelmsford, Surrey were bowled out for 14.

Norbert Philip
Phillip had plenty to celebrate after taking 6-4

It was, and still is, the lowest team total in first-class cricket since 1907.

Keith Pont, an Essex regular, remembers the match so well that even today he can recount the exact bowling figures of Norbert Phillip and Neil Foster.

For the record, Phillip, Essex's overseas signing from the Windward Islands, took 6-4 while Foster pocketed 4-10.

"Norbert bowled outswingers and Fozzie was swinging it and seaming it," says Pont.

"There were a lot of left-handers in the Surrey team and the bowlers were swinging it like an absolute boomerang.

"People were letting the ball go because it was starting two-and-a-half feet outside off stump.

"They were either being trapped lbw or being clean bowled."

Roger Knight said we hadn't batted awfully well. It was one of the better under-statements of all time
Alan Butcher

The three-day match had been scheduled to start on the Saturday but rain meant no play was possible until after the Sunday league match.

Essex batted first and managed 287 thanks to a Keith Fletcher century and around an hour's play was available at the end of the day for the Surrey batsmen to see out.

Alan Butcher was the first man to be dismissed, caught behind by Phillip.

He says: "For a couple of years we had ended up batting the last 40 minutes at Chelmsford knowing the ball did normally swing around and we used to end up losing three or four wickets.

"On that evening it just seemed every time we missed the ball it was lbw or bowled or every time we nicked it the ball went to hand.

"To be honest, if Sylvester Clarke hadn't been dropped for nought" - he went on to slog a four - "we would have failed to get double figures."

Alan Butcher
Butcher made scores of 2 and 5 in the match

Clarke's boundary ultimately meant Surrey avoided the ignominy of recording the lowest team score in the history of first-class cricket.

Butcher continues: "Some funny things happened that night as you can imagine. We weren't in the best of moods.

"Roger Knight [the Surrey captain] told some journalists we hadn't batted awfully well. It was one of the better under-statements of all time.

"David Thomas [who batted at seven] said we can't sit around like this - let's go down the nightclub.

"I said: 'It's alright for you, you probably won't need to bat until about 11.20 am tomorrow.' "

In the event, Surrey's follow-on effort was good enough to secure a draw as Knight hit an unbeaten 101 with Grahame Clinton contributing 61 not out.

For Pont, now director of development at the England and Wales Cricket Board, the match has many happy memories despite the fact Essex failed to win it.

"To this day I still cannot believe it. A friend came to the match. She had never seen a professional game before.

"As I walked off she said: 'I really like this game - it's very exciting.' "


Schweppes County Championship, 1983. Essex v Surrey, County Ground, Chelmsford. 28, 30, 31 May.

Result: Match drawn. Points: Essex 7, Surrey 4

Essex 1st innings 287 (*KWR Fletcher 110, PI Pocock 3-49)

Surrey 1st innings AR Butcher c DE East b Phillip 2
GS Clinton c DE East b Foster 6
A Needham b Foster 0
*RDV Knight lbw b Phillip 0
+CJ Richards c Turner b Phillip 0
DJ Thomas lbw b Foster 0
IR Payne b Phillip 0
G Monkhouse lbw b Phillip 2
ST Clarke b Foster 4
PI Pocock not out 0

Total (all out, 14.3 overs) 14

Bowling
Phillip 7.3-4-4-6, Foster 7-3-10-4.

Surrey 2nd innings (following on) 185-3 (Knight 101*, Clinton 61*)


ESSEX

SURREY

SEE ALSO
The birth of one-day cricket
01 May 03  |  Cricket
Five great finals
20 Jun 02  |  Counties

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