Cricket: Brown rushes to century record

Warwickshire 300-9 v Northamptonshire
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DOUGIE BROWN, without a first-class century in 127 previous attempts, set the record straight with one of unique distinction as Warwickshire established a useful position despite another restricted day. It was a day of records for Brown who scored not only the first hundred of the new Championship season but the earliest in the competition's history.

The 29-year-old all-rounder, who extended his score to 126 not out before the second of two stoppages for rain ended play, pipped Leicestershire's Paul Nixon to the honour of being quickest off the mark this year. The other statistic is due to the World Cup, the accommodation of which forced the fixture planners to usher in the domestic campaign earlier than ever, allowing Brown to claim a record held for 12 months by his new captain, Neil Smith, who made a Championship hundred on 17 April last year.

Brown's milestone owed something to the World Cup also; specifically, to his non-selection. Born in Stirling, he could have been there with Scotland had he not already made nine one-day appearances for England. But his failure to underline his all-rounder status with a hundred in any form of senior cricket has restricted his progress.

"It is no secret that I have underachieved batting-wise," he said, reflecting on a record that had included 17 first-class 50s. "After I was not picked for the one-dayers in Australia it was on the cards that I would not make the World Cup squad and I decided it was time to put in some solid work.

"I was aware of how many times I'd gone past 50 but then given it away on 70 or 80. So I spent the winter working on my whole approach to batting, technical and mental. I set myself a target of three centuries this season and it is good to have chalked off one of them so soon."

Brown has no regrets about opting to play for England even though he would have been a certainty for the Scotland squad. "I would love to be playing in the World Cup but I made my mind up a long time ago that I was going to be English qualified and that is something I have got to live with.

"But I'll be very pleased if Scotland do well and I see no reason why they can't upset a few people along the way and make them work hard for their victories," Brown said.

The Edgbaston wicket offered assistance and movement to the pace bowlers and the former England international Devon Malcolm returned 6 for 116 off 29 overs for Northants, although he has bowled better for lesser reward and was flattered by those figures.

Graeme Welch (23) helped Brown add 61 in 23 overs for the seventh wicket and then Keith Piper (34), who had been forced to retire on Wednesday with a bruised index finger, returned to the wicket to add 50 with Brown. There was just time for the last man, Ed Giddins, to leg-glance Taylor for four to take the total up to 300 and that third batting point before rain returned at 5pm with a total of 44 overs lost in the day.

Paul Taylor bowled an immaculate line throughout the day and finished with 2 for 57 from 31 overs.