Enigmatic trio flatter to deceive

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The Independent Online

Surrey were the better side on the day with important contributions from three of their most talented, yet enigmatic, players. Ben Hollioake's 73 won him the match award, Mark Ramprakash's 39 saw Surrey on their way after the loss of an early wicket, while Ed Giddins' three wickets later on destroyed the main Gloucestershire batting.

Hollioake's outrageous talent was evident when the Australians were last here four years ago. He made 66 not out in a one-day international at Lord's taking England to a six-wicket victory. But before long his lack of application had him out of both the England and Surrey sides.

His seemingly lackadaisical approach can be infuriating, but this year he has appeared to be rather more concerned about his progress. He has been back in the England one-day side and in the Benson and Hedges final he cut out the frivolous and found the determination to play an innings which won Surrey the match.

Ramprakash strutted out at the fall of the first wicket as if determined to show his former employers watching from their various eyries beyond the boundary what they were missing. He produced some lovely fluent strokes, especially through the covers, and looked as though he would settle for nothing less than a hundred. Then Mark Alleyne produced a seductive long hop. Ramprakash's ears went back, his head went up, he forgot to roll his wrists over the ball and gave the simplest of catches to deep square leg.

Making enticing scores of somewhere between 20 and 50 seems to be the story of Ramprakash's life. He will be back at Lord's this week for the second Test, when a similar score will be as irrelevant as it will be irritating.

You never know what you are going to get from Giddins. It was a shock when he came down the Pavilion steps with his hair dyed a peroxide blond. It was impossible not to wonder what Fred Trueman would have made of that. When Giddins came on first change at the Pavilion End, though, he produced a match-winning spell.

He bowled Kim Barnett, who was in no sort of touch, and then produced a beauty which came back down the slope to win an lbw decision against the Australian Ian Harvey – one player capable of winning the match on his own. On another day Ken Palmer might have thought Harvey was a fraction outside the line of the off-stump.

A little later Giddins bowled Matt Windows and made a Gloucestershire recovery distinctly unlikely. In this form it is impossible not to get excited about Giddins, but the next time he bowls he is just as likely to emulate the peroxide blond he has just become.

One cannot see players with suspect temperaments surviving in the hot crucible of Australian domestic cricket. They would have to tough it out or get out. Intermittent brilliance was all very well for Surrey on Saturday, but for England against Australia it would be infuriating and insupportable.

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