Ramprakash plays the Lions' king

Surrey's technician leads the carnage as party-time comes to The Oval. Stephen Fay reports

The good news was lit up in red outside the Hobbs Gate at The Oval. "Sold Out" it said. That meant there would be a crowd of 6,000 at the building site in Kennington for the Surrey Lions' Twenty20 game against the Hampshire Hawks, and they got what they came for. Mark Ramprakash's 50 came up with the fifth six of his innings. Mark Butcher's 50 was rather more circumspect, taking 36 balls compared to Ramps' 32, and then Adam Hollioake lit into the Hampshire attack, falling only six short of his own 50.

Surrey reached 198 ­ well above the par score of 150 ­ because they scored 71 in the last five overs of the innings. The jewel in this crown was the controlled hitting of Ramprakash, demonstrating a simple truth about the 20-over slog: the better the technique, the harder the hitting.

The slaughter of the innocents began later in the day than the textbook suggests it should in Twenty20 cricket. The crowd in the public stands sat back expecting a heroic attack from Ali Brown, but he was out for three in the third over. Scott Newman was bowled in the first over having scored only four.

Greg Blewett, the elegant Aussie who has flown over to London to play for three weeks, should have reassured The Oval's loyalists, but he blew it ­ again. On his debut on Friday evening he was out for a single. He improved that score fourfold yesterday before getting bowled by James Bruce, an Old Etonian whose figures of 3 for 21 in four overs explain Surrey's somewhat hesitant start.

But the crowd was well pleased, and so would the Surrey management be. There were plenty of children and some babies. There were pints in the fists of young men but the atmosphere was relatively demure. Another sell-out crowd is expected next Friday to watch the Lions, who won the competition in its first year and made a convincing start this season with a 10-run win against Sussex at Hove on Friday night. That was the first Twenty20 game for Steve Rixon, Surrey's new Australian coach, but he has already identified the secret of the format. "The biggest key to success is the enjoyment factor. Go and have a good time and the performance will look after itself," he says.

A wicket was cut close to the boundary, promising an unusually high quota of sixes, more surely than the five Surrey managed in scoring 221 on Friday, which equals the record score so far.

Hampshire had something to prove to themselves before anyone else. Out for 95 at Chelmsford on Friday, their fifth straight defeat in Twenty20 cricket.

The England and Wales Cricket Board are cocky enough about another success to have released ticket sales figures: before the tournament began, 110,000 tickets had been sold for 45 group matches. That includes 15,000 tickets for Middlesex v Surrey at Lord's on 15 July, beating the previous record of 14,862 at Old Trafford last year for Lancashire v Yorkshire.

Last summer's sun, which gave the first year of Twenty20 cricket such a great send-off, is reflected in the marketing ploys introduced this year. Essex, Glamorgan, Hampshire and Worcestershire are creating beaches on the boundary, the latter featuring "Sand, two hot tubs with waitress service, palm trees and fairy lights, fridge with alcopops/Bud, cocktail beach bar, drinks serviced in coconuts with umbrellas and straws, and an npower lifeguard." It is easy to make fun when counties try to compete with the fun fair, but they seem to have pulled it off. Perhaps it is because of Twenty20's limited duration. Rixon prefers it to the protracted jollity of one-day cricket in Australia.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his goal for Real Madrid against Juventus
football
Voices
Ed Miliband and David Cameron are neck and neck in the polls
election 2015Armando Iannucci: on how British politics is broken
Arts and Entertainment
Harrison Ford plays Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade (1989)
film
Life and Style
Great minds like Einstein don't think alike
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
Fans take a selfie with Ed Miliband in Kempston, near Bedford, on Tuesday
election 2015
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power