Cricket / County Championship: Watkinson well in

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The Independent Online
Lancashire . . . . . . . . . . . . .392

Surrey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4-0

THE INS and outs of a drawn- out day were fairly straightforward here, Lancashire's batsmen either well in or put out. Surrey, meanwhile, scratched their heads, the long-term sufferers experiencing the highs and lows after hoping to take advantage of conditions early on. As for emerging from under the clouds, none came better than Mike Watkinson.

Watkinson's was the penultimate name on the scorecard, but the all-rounder arrived after the fall of the fifth wicket. By then, three of Lancashire's front four had disappeared for single figures while Nick Speak and Graham Lloyd had made it into the 70s. As for Watkinson, he ended up top of the bill.

He has the Indian sign on Surrey, who had every reason to chastise themselves after Darren Bicknell had put down a half chance in the covers off brother Martin. Watkinson was then on 36 and nothing that followed was going to break the three-figure habit he has acquired against these opponents.

Mind you, Watkinson cut it fine this time. Alex Barnett, the No 11, was his partner when he straight drove Joey Benjamin for six to complete a superb century. By then, Surrey probably did not know whether to clap or cry because three of Watkinson's four first-class hundreds have been taken off their own attack.

Watkinson hit a dozen other boundaries, Lancashire fast closing on 400 when Benjamin gained some revenge with a caught and bowled against his adversary, but by then Surrey were looking a little worn.

Surrey had enjoyed early success in ripping out Stephen Titchard, Gehan Mendis and Neil Fairbrother for 25 before Speak and Lloyd put on 119 for the fourth wicket in 23 overs.

There was another century stand for the sixth between Wasim Akram, who celebrated his 27th birthday with a score of 60 that included two sixes and half a dozen fours, and Watkinson. This was quickfire stuff in complete contrast to a day that dragged on to nearly half past seven, Surrey taking an age to get through their overs only a dozen of which were bowled by the spinners, the seamer Benjamin returning the best figures with 4 for 96

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