Cricket: Shahid takes his chance to shine

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Surrey 502-7 dec Worcestershire 104-2

IT HAS been a threadbare couple of years for Nadeem Shahid. Two years without a big score. Two years with very few opportunities to show what he is capable of. And he is capable of much as he revealed with the sixth century of his first-class career when Surrey piled up 500 for only the fourth time against these opponents.

Shahid, who joined Surrey from Essex for the 1995 season, has had to bide his time. In a squad with batting riches, there is, of necessity, a pecking order.

When the England men are back there is little room for the likes of Shahid, Jason Ratcliffe et al. He played in only seven Championship matches last summer, although this year, for one reason or another, is a little better. And so far he has made the most of them.

Shahid is blessed with natural timing and a variety of shots which he used to stitch together a vivid 124, containing 21 boundaries. There were hundred partnerships with Alistair Brown, who maintained his form with a 72, and Ben Hollioake - who rediscovered his touch with 51. It all helped in creating a satisfyingly plump cushion from which the bowlers could then attack at will.

They did try, and Worcestershire did lose a couple of wickets, incuding the promising Abdul Hafeez (33) after a 67-run stand for the second wicket with Graeme Hick. But the initial overs of the Worcestershire innings also saw a wayward Alex Tudor in particular threatening to unpick everyone else's careful handiwork. The fast bowler Tudor sent down six no balls in his opening spell of five overs. And after he came off the in-form Hick moved solidly towards yet another high score, his appetite for runs clearly undiminished by his recent achievement of scoring his hundredth first-class hundred.

By the close Hick had ensured that substantial progress had been made towards the 353 runs needed to avoid the follow-on and was himself sitting comfortably on an unbeaten 40 with his side still 398 adrift of Surrey.