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Adams hits century as Sussex close gap at top

Sussex 362-4 v Surrey

This was not one of Surrey's better days. It got off to an inauspicious start when Mark Ramprakash was handed a three-point penalty by the England and Wales Cricket Board after an incident during last weekend's Championship match against Middlesex.

The Surrey captain, Adam Hollioake, also lost the toss, then was a spectator as Chris Adams notched up his first hundred since May last year in the wake of the openers, Richard Montgomerie and Murray Goodwin, compiling their first century stand of the season.

By the end of the day, second-placed Sussex had closed the gap on the First Division leaders, from five points to two and, to cap it all, the Sussex women's team, led by the England captain Clare Connor, were crowned county champions.

Ramprakash's sin was to be in ignorance of a change of regulation, and when he queried with the umpires why play was resumed in light drizzle he was clearly not as courteous as perhaps he might have been.

The umpires, Mark Benson and Peter Hartley, reported him for using language or gesture that is obscene or of a serious insulting nature, to (in this case) the umpires.

The penalty points will remain on Ramprakash's record for 12 months and the accumulation of nine or more in any 12-month period would result in an automatic suspension.

But news of his punishment will cause barely a ripple in the Surrey camp, to whom the ease with which their closest title rivals were able to pile up the runs yesterday will be of far greater concern.

The pity of it was that a modest crowd of around 1,500 was there to witness events, especially the domination of the spin duo of Saqlain Mushtaq, who bowled unchanged from just before lunch to the close, and Ian Salisbury later in the day by Adams and the wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose as they added 98 for the fourth wicket.

Goodwin and Montgomerie had been no less absorbing, both scoring half-centuries for the first time this summer. Montgomerie was on 90 when he missed, pushing forward to a Salisbury leg-break and lost his off stump.

But Adams was well set by then and struck possibly the most important of his 34 career centuries. Sussex have never won the Championship, but, on this showing, they are determined to mount a serious challenge.