DESPITE appearances to the contrary, the subcontinent was not totally shorn of English heroes this winter. That said, one would have to have been an accomplished student of small print to find such solace. The fact remains that the England Under-19 team squared a series against their palpably superior hosts, and there were more straws for the clutching here yesterday, most of them offered by Michael Vaughan, a slimline opener who has already announced himself as something special by being the first Lancastrian to sign for Yorkshire.
Fielding eight of that Indian party, the England colts opted for first use of one of Harry Brind's perennial pluperfect strips. Pragmatic of stroke and patience personified, Vaughan was content to jog along behind the more assertive Matthew Dowman, a burly left-hander who launched some beefy drives to reach 79 out of a lunch score of 144 without loss or alarm.
Dowman departed without addition, caught at slip off Danny Kelleher, but 50s from Matthew Walker and the captain, Jimmy Daley, complemented Vaughan's assurance, the latter proceeding to a composed 163 with 25 fours before top- edging a sweep to backward square.
Not that the home bowlers were entirely willing doormats. In Mark Butcher, son of the new Essex coach and former Oval stalwart, Alan, Surrey possess a medium-fast seamer with plenty of zest and bounce while David Thompson, a YTS graduate, sent down a few snorters.
The pick of the Rapid Cricket Line champions' attack, however, was Mark Bainbridge, whose slow left- armers decided last summer's Under- 19 series against Sri Lanka. Bowling with flight and a modicum of bite at either end of the day, he was perversely underused, a point rammed home with no little eloquence just before stumps when he drifted one through the hesitant defences of Robert Cunliffe with the Gloucestershire greenhorn yet to open his account.
The other player to miss out was Surrey's Gregor Kennis, an off-spinner whose name may suggest a son of of the Highlands but who is in fact born in that fabled cricketing nursery, Japan. Andy Smith, the home captain, kept Kennis in his kennel.
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