Cricket: Ramprakash fires timely backlash

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The Independent Online
reports from Lord's

Middlesex 356-4 v Surrey

Mark Ramprakash scored a sumptuous 185 not out here yesterday on a pitch no more than 20 yards from where he was out twice for nought against the West Indies in the second Test.

Will this innings save his England place when the team for the third Test is chosen this weekend? The chairman of selectors' response can be predicted: "Aye, but who were bowling?" Well, actually, Raymond, it was Surrey.

In fact, the innings was witnessed by selectors Fred Titmus and David Graveney, with the England batting coach, John Edrich, to supply confirmation. And Surrey do have Carl Rackemann, a still redoubtable professor of seam, Joey Benjamin, seemingly fit again, and they also introduced a quick bowler of potential.

Alex Tudor, from Hammersmith, is 17 but stands 6ft 4in. He has a fine flowing action, a sharp delivery and, taking a ball eight overs old, moved it considerably, judging from Graham Kersey's reactions. He was an MCC Young Cricketer until Surrey smuggled him out from under Middlesex's nose; the committee room would have been none too chuffed when he removed both the Middlesex openers after having Paul Weekes dropped at slip when 32.

Surrey could have had quite a morning. Weekes was also missed at 57 at deep fine leg, off Mark Butcher, while Ramprakash could have been caught behind off Butcher, when 11, Kersey having failed to borrow the telescopic arm used by his captain, Alec Stewart, in the Test match.

Weekes, one run and the lunch interval later, was then missed at slip off Adam Hollioake. By then Ramprakash was on to his 50 (84 balls) and for five overs Surrey must have feared an afternoon massacre as Mike Gatting twice bulleted Rackemann into the boards; two balls later he played on.

John Carr spooned to extra cover and it was left to the ever dependable Keith Brown (four boundaries so far in his unbeaten 65) to play the straight man as Ramprakash, without histrionics, timed his way to his 21st century and second of this summer. By the close he had batted six and a half hours and hit 32 fours.

For those statisticians to whom the Surrey attack has become a constant delight, eight bowlers were used on this occasion. Pained Oval regulars should also know that Darren Bicknell and Ally Brown were dropped.