Surrey 537-5 dec Lancashire 63-1: Afzaal century gives selectors a reminder as Surrey dominate

Apart from Andrew Flintoff's comeback, the first two days here have left Lancashire feeling pretty forlorn. Standing in the middle of a field in the teeth of an Arctic gale is not fun at the best of times, without having to watch your opponents scoring runs as if it were mid-summer.

The joint favourites for the County Championship have it all to do to avoid launching their season with a defeat on the ground where last year's title slipped away. If the damage inflicted on Lancashire by Mark Ramprakash and Mark Butcher was not painful enough, when they left the scene along came Usman Afzaal to trump them both. The 30-year-old left-hander is making his Championship debut for Surrey, having moved to The Oval from Northamptonshire during the winter.

Given that he had a thin time against Second Division attacks last season, Surrey's interest might have seemed unlikely but their coach, Alan Butcher, clearly remembered that the last two centuries he made in the Championship, in 2006, were against Surrey. For his part, Afzaal hopes that playing in this company might raise his prospects of earning a belated second chance with England, who discarded him in 2002.

An unbeaten 134, then, was an impressive beginning. Confident from the outset, Afzaal despatched spinner Gary Keedy's first ball of the day into the crowd at midwicket and scarcely missed a scoring opportunity thereafter.

Moreover, he emerged from a testing examination by Flintoff unscathed. The paceman could not add to his single wicket but racked up 28 overs in bursts of five and six and on a batsman-friendly surface it was a reassuringly hostile return. Significantly, there was no sign of any weakness from his repaired ankle.

Oliver Newby, whose figures were particularly unkind, deservedly bagged Mark Ramprakash but was let down by another dropped catch when Glen Chapple lost a top edge from Butcher (on 89), who went on to reach 120.

James Benning fell to Keedy in an attempted sweep but his departure ushered in Ali Brown to join Afzaal in a partnership worth 160 when Mark Butcher called them in. Lancashire reached 63 for the loss of Iain Sutcliffe, a debut victim for Surrey's West Indian-born Kolpak fast bowler, Pedro Collins.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor