Mark Ramprakash has been making Leicestershire bowlers suffer since the days when Les Taylor and Jonathan Agnew were spearheading their attack. Old habits die hard. Yesterday the former England batsman made his fifth first-class century against the Midlands county as Surrey built a position of strength.
Leicestershire are clearly a favourite opponent for the 36-year-old. In 17 first-class innings against them he has an average of 91.5 with eight fifties in addition to the hundreds. Only four times has he made fewer than 56.
This, therefore, was not a wholly unexpected turn of events, particularly on a docile pitch. The ball rarely beat the bat, although the bounce was so slow and low that neither was scoring runs particularly easy. But it was a day when graft and concentration were likely to be rewarded. Ramprakash arrived at the ground in euphoric mood after Arsenal's triumph in Spain but he could not have been more single-minded once he was out in the middle, offering only one chance and that a difficult one to Hylton Ackerman at second slip.
He was on 31 at that moment and made the most of the escape, posting his fifty with a straight six off Claude Henderson, the left-arm spinner. For the most part Leicestershire bowled straight but when anyone did stray off line Ramprakash usually took advantage. He had racked up 14 fours before clipping a single to leg off David Masters to reach three figures and added two more before succumbing leg before to a ball that inevitably kept low.
Surrey, who lost Scott Newman early and saw Jonathan Batty's innings ended at 54 when Broad cut one back to hit off stump, needed something of substance to justify their decision to bat first. To that end, Ramprakash had the right partner in Mark Butcher, with whom he shared third-wicket stand of 161.
Leicestershire tried seven bowlers, the best of whom was the 19-year-old Broad, who accounted also for Ally Brown and looked more threatening than the Pakistan Test bowler Mohammad Asif, whose first steps in Championship cricket appeared tentative.Reuse content