Ramprakash inspires Surrey with innings to remember

Gloucestershire 350 Surrey 409-7 Match abandoned at 73 mins
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The Independent Online

The West Country side, shorn of bowlers Jon Lewis and Steve Kirby, found it increasingly tough to rein in the Surrey batsman.

The two early wickets Gloucestershire claimed - the nightwatchman Nayan Doshi and captain Mark Butcher - merely flattered to deceive, and served only to usher more problems to the middle in the guise of Ramprakash.

If Surrey are to salvage anything from the season and send manager Steve Rixon home with something to remember them by then it is more than likely that Ramprakash will be the man to lead the operation.

The former England batsman has been at the forefront of Surrey's run-gathering since joining them from Middlesex in 2001. Yesterday's innings was his fourth century of the season, although he and the Surrey fans have had to wait some 15 weeks for it, and it was the 23rd time in his career that he has passed 150.

It wasn't flawless, but perfection is not necessarily pretty to watch, while Ramprakash is. So the difficult chance he gave to Ian Fisher in the gully on 18, and the one that wicketkeeper Stephen Adshead appeared to say was grounded when Ramprakash had made 113, were irrelevancies.

Ramprakash and Graham Thorpe produced some unfussy run-gathering as they smoothly picked up the pieces after those early losses. The pity of it was that Thorpe perished on the stroke of lunch, clipping a ball from William Rudge hard and low to Matt Windows at square leg.

The pair had added 98 for the fourth wicket, but the incoming Jon Batty did not buck the trend and he and Ramprakash settled into a profitable afternoon partnership of 133 which lasted until shortly before tea when the wicketkeeper was snapped up at second slip by Ramnaresh Sarwan.

By then Ramprakash had reached the 77th hundred of his career and had also passed 1,000 in a season for the 15th time and Surrey were closing in steadily on their opponents' total. The loss in quick succession of Alistair Brown and Azhar Mahmood caused a frisson among the faithful, but Ramprakash didn't falter, and nor did Surrey as they went in 59 runs to the good.