Tea Report: Surrey 451-5 v Lancashire
Tea on the second day (Surrey won toss)
Thursday 17 April 2008
Unlike poor Simon Jones, whose comeback for Worcestershire has already been derailed by a stiff neck, Andrew Flintoff's return continues without mishap. What's more, in the context of the unfolding Surrey runfest, his figures reflect his class: his 1-46 from 23 overs compares favourably indeed with Oliver Newby's 2-112 from 28 and Saj Mahmood's 0-94 from 27, although neither of the last-named pair has bowled badly.
Yet this is a good track with little room for bowler error and in a stiff cross-wind control has not always been easy. Lancashire, having seen off Mark Ramprakash in the morning, stopped Mark Butcher building too substantially on his 37th first-class century only to run into another formidable adversary in Usman Afzaal, who went to tea a single away from a century on his Championship debut for Surrey.
Afzaal is another unfulfilled talent, albeit not in the manner of Ramprakash. Brimming with self-confidence when England gave him a run-out during the 2001 Ashes series, he subsequently toured India but failed to make the team and then fell out of favour. Perhaps his winter move from Northants to Surrey will reawaken interest, especially if a so-far chanceless knock here is a taste of what is to come. Just a shame Geoff Miller, England's chairman of selectors, has moved on to Canterbury.
Butcher walked on 120, nibbling at a ball from Glen Chapple - who has recovered, happily, from the physical damage he suffered when he dropped the Surrey skipper this morning - and James Benning was lbw on the sweep against Gary Keedy, but Afzaal claimed Surrey's fifth batting point with a lovely extra cover drive past a heavily-layered Brad Hodge.
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