The problem with focusing on one batsman is that there is a tendency to ignore the other. For more than an hour today all eyes were on Mark Ramprakash, waiting, watching for the moment he reached the hundredth hundred of his career.
And all the while Surrey captain Mark Butcher was heading towards his own landmark – the 38th hundred of his first class career (incidentally the hundredth Surrey century against Yorkshire) and one of the more important from the county’s perspective because it was just about the only thing keeping them afloat and in this match.
It took Butcher almost four hours to reach three figures, he did so with a cover drive for the 16th boundary of his innings. It certainly went a long way to making up for Ramprakash missing out again.
This was Ramprakash’s third attempt at the landmark, he failed comprehensively at Hampshire last week on an unsympathetic surface.
Here, on a straw-white pitch Ramprakash, after a shaky start began to look in control of his destiny. He reached lunch a shade over a quarter of the way there.
The intervals often claim a wicket or two and no exception was made for Ramprakash. On the unlucky 13th ball back Ramprakash went onto the back foot to a shortish delivery from Yorkshire debutant Oliver Hannon-Dalby. The ball reared up a little more than expected and appeared to go off the splice to second slip where Yorkshire captain Anthony McGrath took the catch to end Ramprakash’s latest bid to reach three figures and present the young bowler with a memorable maiden first class wicket.
It sparked a mini collapse. Usman Afzaal was caught behind off Deon Kruis and Alistair Brown fell lbw to the same bowler, both men failed to get off the mark and suddenly, from a position of relative comfort, Surrey had lost three for nine runs in 20 balls.
Jon Batty steadied things. Demoted from the openers slot the wicketkeeper got his head down and helped his captain add 72 for the fifth wicket.
He had reached 26 when Batty inadvertently became a landmark victim for McGrath. When Batty edged a ball to wicketkeeper Gerard Brophy he became McGrath’s 100th first class victim.