Cricket: Adam's turn to lord it

Middlesex 205 and 24-1 Surrey 531-9dec
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The Independent Online
It Was carnage. It was a carnival. A Bros concert as the Hollioakes, Adam and Ben, scored career bests and dispatched Middlesex's title pretensions to all parts of Lord's. And among a delighted, sun-drenched crowd was England's chairman of selectors David Graveney and the national coach David Lloyd.

Of the two, Adam's innings, a muscular, responsible 182, made in a shade over five hours, was the superior effort. He shared in significant stands of 150 with Alistair Brown and 143 with Ben during the compilation of the 11th century of his first-class career and his first of the summer. And, to underline the sensible and determined nature of his innings, all four of his sixes came after he had reached three figures with a stunning straight drive off Jamie Hewitt for his 14th boundary.

As missed opportunities go, this has been a little classic. Surrey have not exactly been buzzing this season, their pre-season hype creating more waves than their much-vaunted squad has subsequently managed in the Championship. They arrived here outside the top 10, their form patchy.

Middlesex, in contrast, were comfortably placed at fifth. But having gone into this match with their eyes on the title, they will likely exit the game with tails between legs. And they have only themselves to blame, after being rolled over for a paltry score in their first innings.

Surrey were merciless. Adam Hollioake and Brown, the latter belying his tag as a one-day batsman, piled on the runs for the fourth wicket once Mark Butcher had been dismissed after add-ing a modest 23 to his overnight 56. Although neither Brown nor Hollioake showed any urgency, they still acquired runs rapidly. Their stand was 32 overs old when Brown, looking set for a hundred, holed out tamely to Mike Gatting at midwicket, having hit eight fours in his 98-ball stay. That merely cleared the stage for a happy hour and a half with the Hollioakes.

Ben was content initially to let Adam do the work. The short Tavern boundary, which Middlesex's batsmen were unable to take advantage of to any great degree in their dismal first innings, did help the Surrey cause, and that was the direction in which Richard Johnson was carted with ease for the first of Adam's sixes. His second sailed over long-on off the same bowler.

He then showed his partiality for the new ball and, in particular, the bowling of Angus Fraser. The former England man's lugubrious features were twisted into a gargoyle of self- disgust at each imperious blow as Adam plundered two further sixes. Indeed, every boundary was as an arrow, cutting the Middlesex quickie to the quick.

But by now Ben was impatient for a share of the action. He has twice this season proved that Lord's is his kind of place and after allowing Adam to pass 150 (in four hours and off 211 balls), Ben joined in the mayhem. Having scored half-centuries on each of his previous two visits -- the Texaco Trophy for England in May and the Benson and Hedges Cup final last month -- Ben can rightly be said to lord it at Lord's.

Shortly before tea he duly completed a hat-trick of fifties with an on- drive off the tormented Fraser for his sixth boundary. In the preceding over he had hoisted Hewitt for 14 runs with four savage blows. Ben departed not long after Adam but only when he had reached 76, his highest first- class score to date. Thereafter came more modest offerings from the rest of Surrey's batting, but the consequence was that by the time they declared Middlesex were confronted not so much by an uphill struggle as a mountain of runs.