Ramprakash sole survivor as Sussex strike

The Walker Ground may be crammed with runs for Mark Ramprakash, but it has not been that kind to Middlesex. They have yet to record a Championship win since they brought first-class cricket back to this tree-fringed ground in the far north of London.

The Walker Ground may be crammed with runs for Mark Ramprakash, but it has not been that kind to Middlesex. They have yet to record a Championship win since they brought first-class cricket back to this tree-fringed ground in the far north of London.

There have been three draws and two defeats and on yesterday's performance here, Ramprakash notwithstanding, a maiden victory looks likely to elude them for a while longer.

They appeared to have no answer to the thoughtful bowling of James Kirtley and Robin Martin-Jenkins, who maintained an admirable length on a wicket that, while not perfect, certainly demanded application with bat and ball.

For a time the opener, Andrew Strauss, managed to do just that. He had one punishing over when he drove and pulled Jason Lewry for three boundaries and there was a frisson of anticipation around the ground that the crowd might be in for a treat.

And for a while they were. Strauss, born in Johannesburg, is an elegant left-hander and Middlesex have found themselves a cracker; but he will have to learn to resist nibbling at the sort of delivery he received from Martin-Jenkins.

He tried to glance it and only edged it to give the wicketkeeper, Nick Wilton, the first of three catches. It was a shame, especially after the failures of the captain, Justin Langer, Mike Roseberry and Owais Shah. As usual though, Ramprakash was still there. This was his second hundred in four innings here this season and he is clearly comfortable in these informal surroundings. He has now scored 334 runs in four innings here and yesterday's effort matched his average on the ground this season - 110.

At the start of the season he had been opening the innings, but the fluency was not in evidence, the confidence was lacking and he had managed little of significance until the first match here at the beginning of the month, when he dropped down the order to No 4.

Worcestershire, Glamorgan and now Sussex have found themselves on the receiving end of Ramprakash's considerable talent, and for him, his 49th hundred (and his fourth against Sussex) was a brisk one.

He reached three figures off 138 balls, bringing up the century with his 14th boundary. It was only right that he should remain unbeaten, which makes his Championship average 56.45.

Middlesex will need more than Ramprakash, though, if they are to rescue their season and haul themselves off the bottom of the Second Division.

Sussex, in contrast, are beginning to do the business and promotion beckons. This is the third match on the trot in which Kirtley has picked up five or more wickets in an innings and Martin-Jenkins is beginning to show a more aggressive side to his generally genial nature. This harder edge to Sussex can be seen in the way they have picked up maximum bowling points in their last eight games.

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