Brown's happy return an object lesson for Newman

Surrey v Gloucestershire
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The Independent Online

That Scott Newman is talented cannot be doubted. The figures prove it because averaging above 50 as an opening batsman for half a season is difficult, especially when thoughtlessness and rash strokes conspire to end many innings prematurely.

That Scott Newman is talented cannot be doubted. The figures prove it because averaging above 50 as an opening batsman for half a season is difficult, especially when thoughtlessness and rash strokes conspire to end many innings prematurely.

And that is one of his problems. He fails to capitalise on good starts, of which it must be said he gets plenty. Most batsmen with his statistics for this season - 808 runs at 53 - would have a couple of big hundreds, or a double hundred to make up for the inevitable failures but Newman has managed with a couple of hundreds and six half-centuries.

In fact his conversion rate from fifties to hundreds is poor - only 25 per cent of the time does he go on to three figures - and the shot he played yesterday to lose his wicket may explain why.

The pitch was good, the outfield fast and Gloucestershire bowlers a touch wayward. Newman was in fine form as he hit two crisp, elegant cover drives on his way to a breezy 73 off only 89 deliveries, with 60 of the runs coming in boundaries. But then, searching for another, he needlessly lofted the left-arm spinner, Ian Fisher, to mid-on.

A ruthless professional would have made sure that a hundred was secured, and then they would have retaken their guard and started all over again.

"Big scores get noticed" is the old batsman's motto and Newman would do well to learn it. At the moment he is just an entertaining dilettante and yet Newman could be so much more.

At 24 years of age, time is still on his side but he has already had the warning shot from Rod Marsh at the academy. "Poor attitude" and "lazy fielder" was the gist of his academy report, so a few big hundreds would be a very good way to prove his developing maturity.

Newman should certainly be thankful that Jon Batty and Alistair Brown did not perish in similar slipshod fashion and actually started to dominate the match with an exciting 200 partnership in only 38 overs.

This heavy scoring in the middle session changed the match as Gloucestershire, unable to defend the boundaries, became increasingly ragged. Partly the reason was the return of Brown to his belligerent best, hammering 20 off one James Averis over and refusing to let any bowler settle down.

It was certainly a timely return to form for Brown, his century being his highest score since September 2002 and he was well supported by Batty. It was foolhardy of Batty to start the season trying to skipper, keep wicket and open the batting, as he has averaged in excess of 100 at No 5 this season in contrast to only 12 when opening. A sizeable lead is within their grasp now and would allow them to pressure Gloucestershire in the second innings.

The crucial partnership also demonstrated to Newman the importance of "cashing in" on runs when you can. If he doubts the wisdom of it he need only ask Brown how much he enjoyed last season, particularly the conversation when he was dropped.

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