Shivnarine Chanderpaul has made 1649 runs against Australia in Test cricket, a good many of them witnessed at first hand by Ricky Ponting, including four of five hundreds. So it was a familiar sight that greeted the former captain of the Baggy Green as he donned the brown cap of Surrey for the first time in the County Championship.
As if determined not to be upstaged, Guyana's finest chose the moment of Ponting's return to the spotlight in England to compile an innings of supreme quality, guiding Derbyshire to a strong position with an unbeaten 112 after a soggy outfield delayed the start by more than three hours.
Chanderpaul's first century for Derbyshire is his 10th in Championship cricket, for four different counties. He is a tough act to emulate, even for a batsman of Ponting's pedigree.
The conditions were a legacy of the rain that washed out Ponting's proposed debut in a 40-over match on Wednesday. This time it was Wayne Madsen who consigned him to wait a little longer to test his own form with the bat, choosing to bat first after winning the toss for the first time this season in the Championship.
Madsen shared a partnership with Chanderpaul that was Derbyshire's highest for any wicket against Surrey, whose cricket continues to be plagued by a lack of consistency. In their last Championship action, against Nottinghamshire, their bowlers looked at least close to it, even though the match was lost; this time, albeit in less helpful conditions, they were consistent only in the rate at which they leaked runs.
Chanderpaul's mission with a Derbyshire side destined to struggle with the step up from Division Two has been largely to make himself difficult to dislodge, at which he is peerless. But he has in his locker too the ability to move the score along quickly, through clever shot placement and a willingness to scamper singles. Among his 28 Test hundreds is one against Australia on his home ground in Georgetown that famously came off only 69 balls – Ponting saw that one, too – and while that number was never threatened, this one was brisk by his more recent standards, coming off 116 balls.
It contained 13 fours, most the result of effortless timing off the front and back foot, five of them in the space of two overs off Chris Tremlett, who was back in the side after England called up Jade Dernbach as one-day cover for Tim Bresnan.