Cricket: Surrey plunder feeble attack

Surrey 389-6 v Warwickshire
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The Independent Online
THE 24-POINT lead Surrey took into this Championship round could be turned into a title- winning advantage if the outcome here is an eighth victory for Adam Hollioake's side. And after a century by Ally Brown, underpinned by Ian Ward's career-best 82, enabled Surrey to dominate the opening day, they are already well on course.

Warwickshire, their own hopes fading, looked miserably out of sorts and Brown in particular took full advantage, attacking some ordinary bowling with characteristic gusto in a hundred scored off only 116 deliveries, going from 50 to 101 in a mere 39, although he enjoyed some luck on 99 when a hard edge through the hands of Dominic Ostler at slip off his namesake, Dougie, took him to three figures.

Both Hollioakes chipped in with runs gathered in similar fashion and there was a nice cameo from Jason Ratcliffe, a former Warwickshire batsman, who enjoyed the pleasure of lofting Allan Donald for six over midwicket. Donald suffered more than anyone. Troubled lately by an ankle injury, this was the South African's first appearance in the Championship for 22 months. Try as he did there was no locating either line or rhythm and at one point, after a short-pitched ball had sailed high and wide of batsman and wicketkeeper, he kicked the ground in frustration.

Ward surpassed his previous best by one run. He has gone past 50 some 13 times in 26 matches, but the elusiveness of the century does not worry him yet. Having been released by Surrey as an 18-year-old in 1992 but then re-engaged after three years playing club cricket - during which time he worked at an indoor cricket centre owned by the Stewart family - at 25 he is grateful simply to be playing.

"If you have been rejected once you do not expect to be taken on again and to be playing alongside the likes of Mark Butcher, Alec Stewart and Graham Thorpe has been fantastic. I feel I missed three years of learning," he said. None of that trio is playing here, which makes Surrey's progress all the more creditable.

Ed Giddins, finishing with 4 for 67, was the most effective Warwickshire bowler, but a fast-paced pitch in fact offered little help and Adam Hollioake's decision to bat first was fully justified. Brown and Ben Hollioake put on 102 in 21 overs for the fifth wicket.