Cricket: Gallian's gallant response

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The Independent Online
Lancashire 129 and 342

Surrey 301-9 dec

DISMISSED for 129 in their first innings, put to the sword by Alex Stewart (126), Alastair Brown and David Ward on Friday before Surrey declared with a lead of 172, Lancashire's ambitions were set no higher than damage limitation here yesterday morning.

Still 101 runs short of forcing Surrey to bat again when they resumed two wickets down, they had not done nearly enough to silence prejudiced Manchester voices in the crowd, who were not convinced there would still be cricket after tea, let alone tomorrow.

It was misplaced cynicism. Well ahead of tea - with the bars still doing lunchtime trade, in fact - Lancashire had cleared the arrears for the loss of only two more wickets. By the close, having batted throughout an uninterrupted day, to be 342 all out, they had left Surrey needing 171 to win, which might not be a platform for survival but which at least restores their dignity.

For this much more optimistic state of affairs they were heavily indebted to Jason Gallian, their 22-year-old Oxford University graduate, who marked his Championship debut by comfortably exceeding the best of the three first-class centuries he made as a student - 141 not out, as captain, against Nottinghamshire last year. He had reached 171 - the highest score made by a Lancashire player in a first championship appearance this century - before giving Stewart a catch at backward point after eight hours and 20 minutes at the crease.

Not the best equipped team to bowl opponents out twice, Lancashire cannot be expected to improve substantially on last season's 13th place in the Britannic table. But they are a young side - average age, 25 - blessed with potential, at least to score runs, of which Gallian, on this evidence, will provide more than a few.

The tall right-hander made his first-class debut for the county in 1990, but has been ineligible to play in the Championship until this season because he was born in Sydney, where his family settled 30 years ago after uprooting from Cheadle in Cheshire. Gallian's graduation coincides with the completion of a four-year qualification by residence.

Gallian approached Lancashire's plight with the watchfulness it demanded and he and Warren Hegg, the night watchman, were within 20 minutes of seeing out the morning session unscathed when Hegg's edge provided Cameron Cuffy, Surrey's 6ft 7in Windward Islander, with his third wicket of the innings and Mark Butcher his fifth slip catch of the match.

Surrey had to manage without their off spinner, James Boiling, who was off the field with an injured thumb, and it was left to Stewart's four seamers to gradually whittle away Lancashire's resistance.

Gallian, meanwhile, made serene progress. Having reached 100 off 273 balls with 14 fours, he passed 150 in 345 balls, taking his boundary count to 22, having given only one, very difficult, chance to square leg.