Hick passes W G Grace in century record books

Lancashire 196 & 47-1 - Worcestershire 306

Rain, cold westerly winds and Graeme Hick lighting up New Road with another brilliant century. These are three of the features which symbolise the beginning of a new season and yesterday, on the second day of Worcestershire's Second Division match with Lancashire, each were present.

Rain, cold westerly winds and Graeme Hick lighting up New Road with another brilliant century. These are three of the features which symbolise the beginning of a new season and yesterday, on the second day of Worcestershire's Second Division match with Lancashire, each were present.

Only Hick will know what motivates him to keep plundering bowling attacks, but in his 22nd season at Worcester, and at the age of 38, he appears as hungry as ever. Hick was eventually dismissed for 176 but by then Worcestershire had taken their lead to 110. By the close Lancashire had cut the deficit by 47 runs for the loss of Mark Chilton.

With Hick's Test career over, the former England batsman has spent the last four years working his way through the all-time list of first-class century makers. In 2004, Hick eased past Tom Graveney and Denis Compton, and following yesterday's display of strokeplay, which took his tally of first-class hundreds to 127, he has now overtaken W G Grace and moved into 10th place. Graham Gooch and Len Hutton will be overtaken in the coming months but it is debatable whether Hick's body will allow him to reach Frank Woolley's record of 145 centuries.

Watching the right-hander bat like this on a seaming pitch, and against an attack containing four bowlers with international experience, it is difficult to comprehend why he failed to crack Test cricket. Hick's modest average of 31 in 65 Tests will always give fuel to those who feel he is nothing but a "flat track bully" but it is obvious that people holding this opinion have never bowled at the man. He was probably too nice a man to cut it in the harsh world of Test cricket.

Rain delayed the start of play until 12.35 and during a nervous 40-minute period before lunch Lancashire appeared in control. Muttiah Muralitharan took wickets with consecutive balls and when Dominic Cork found the outside edge of Vikram Solanki's bat the home side were on 71 for 4.

On a surface offering lateral movement, and occasionally inconsistent bounce, James Anderson troubled Hick after the interval. But then Hick decided he had had enough. Anderson was pulled over deep midwicket for six and then smashed through the covers for four.

Sajid Mahmood was given an awful pounding. The fast bowler's second delivery was carved over third man for six and he was then cut for four. In his next over Mahmood was driven for another boundary and then pulled over deep square leg for six.

Muralitharan is the second highest wicket-taker in Test cricket but there was little he could do to stop Hick, who reached three figures by hitting the spinner for another six.

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