Cricket: Ratcliffe relishes chance to flourish

The Oval Surrey v Durham
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The Independent Online
A MATCH of contrasts held further twists for the third day running. Just as Surrey had set off like a steam train first time around, so this time the opening pair of Ian Ward and Darren Bicknell were more like goods shunters as they pushed the ball around for some 17 overs for 25 runs, as compared with the first innings when they had 37 on the board inside 10.

Ward was unable to match his first innings half-century but Bicknell and Jason Ratcliffe compiled 58 runs either side of lunch as they laid the foundation of an imposing victory target for Durham.

Ratcliffe who, because of international calls, finds himself coming in then going out of the first team, has to make the most of his opportunities as and when they arise. He did so yesterday. He had contributed hugely to a productive third-wicket partnership of 143 with Ben Hollioake after Bicknell had departed, but, sadly for Ratcliffe, he was run out just nine runs short of his 100. The first ball of the next over saw Hollioake bowled by Stephen Harmison, a thin edge clipping the stump just hard enough to knock off the bail before finishing over the boundary.

By then Hollioake and Ratcliffe had inflicted enough damage on the Durham attack to leave Surrey in an assured position. Between them the pair hit four sixes and 19 boundaries, adding weight to their substantial first- innings lead of 118.

Harmison, though, had not finished. Three balls after Ben Hollioake was dismissed, he accounted for older brother Adam, caught in the gully by Michael Gough. When Gary Butcher followed shortly after that, Hollioake senior declared the Surrey second innings, leaving Durham with a target of 366 runs to win.

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