Cricket: Thorpe reaches his century

TODAY'S PLAY
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The Independent Online
A studied century by Graham Thorpe, the third of his career, has made this a memorable Test for Surrey as well as for England. It is not often you get two centurions in the same innings, but when they both come from the same county, the celebrations are bound to be more far reaching.

For Thorpe, a square drive has probably never felt sweeter, and he was more relieved than anyone when he sent Danny Morrison's wide half-volley speeding to the cover boundary. Until his century here, Thorpe had passed 50 on 22 occasions, converting just two of them into hundreds. As one of those was on debut, his has been one of the more curious batting records for a player who averages over 40.

However, although he has been one of England's steadier performers, Thorpe has undergone a couple of wretched winter's and his hundred here - amazingly in his first Test against New Zealand - would have brought welcome relief to his winter blues, especially as he and Cork took Engand into a commanding lead.

Dominic Cork began in manic mood, and he quickly struck Chris Cairns for four through mid-wicket. In 16 Tests Cork has managed just one half- century, against the West Indies at Old Trafford in 1994. It is a poor record for a player with such bountiful talents and hopefully his innings here has broken the bogey.

So far this pitch has not misbehaved as new surfaces sometimes do and it was still fairly benign when the fourth day's play began. However, widening cracks will mean that few batsmen will be able to rest entirely easy.

ENGLAND - First Innings

G P Thorpe not out 117

D G Cork not out 38

Extras (b1 lb6 nb2 w1) 10

Total (for 6) 448

Bowling: Morrison 19-4-87-0 (2nb); Doull 26-10-103-2; Cairns 23-3-85- 0; Astle 14-3-33-0; Vaughan 25-6-45-1; Patel 40-9-88-2.

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