Elliott gives exhibition of his art

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The Independent Online

After Nick Knight, it was the turn of Matthew Elliott and Steve James to plunder runs from this benign pitch, not in the same quantity as those for which the Warwickshire opener had so painstakingly grafted but of a particular quality, not least from another left-hander of international pedigree.

Elliott, who has replaced Jacques Kallis as Glamorgan's overseas player, introduced himself in the most handsome fashion, marking his maiden Championship innings with a century which, for fluency of strokeplay, he may be hard-pressed to match.

Warwickshire, requiring their opponents to reach 402 to avoid the follow-on, made progress later in the day but only after Elliott and James had bettered even the deeds of Knight and Michael Powell on Wednesday in scoring 203 before a wicket fell.

The Australian's contribution was to hit 19 fours and two sixes - 88 runs in boundaries - in a superb exhibition of his art that held the small Birmingham crowd in respectful thrall. His timing was exemplary as one drive after another gathered pace across a drying outfield.

It was sublime stuff, but came to an end in an unlikely fashion at the hands of Powell. The Warwickshire opener's medium pace can be described as a highly secret weapon, having brought him only one previous Championship success. When Elliott drilled back his first ball Powell could hardly believe his luck as held the catch.

Glamorgan felt suitably rewarded, none the less. When they hired Elliott it was with starts of this nature in mind, in which Elliott imposes himself on attacks frustrated by the stubbornness of James at the other end. And after Warwickshire had made them toil so long in the field, how they needed one such partnership here.

Elliott can be compared with Knight, in that he is also seeking to rebuild his international career. The Victorian was the outstanding Australian batsman of the 1997 Ashes tour, after which he was named among Wisden's five cricketers of the year. But in doing so he set himself a high standard which inevitably would be hard to maintain and he lost his Test place - and his Australian Cricket Board contract - last year.

However, a profitable 1999-2000 season followed, bringing him 1,028 first-class runs at 68.53 with Victoria. This week he received a new ACB contract, although happily it will impinge only minimally on his Glamorgan commitments, if at all.