Julian's perfect timing

Cricket: Surrey 395 and 82-1 Northamptonshire 235
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The Independent Online
The wait has been worth it. Surrey have pined for an effective overseas player since the heady days of Waqar Younis. Attempts to replace the Pakistan fast bowler have produced a string of disappointing, but remarkably affable bowlers: Rudi Bryson, Cameron Cuffy and Carl Rackemann.

At last they have found their man. Brendon Julian arrived with a lot to prove to himself, the Australian selectors and, most important of all, Surrey. In his last few matches he has gone a long way to convincing all three of his undoubted ability. His exploits with the bat - a huge bonus for Surrey - now include a couple of centuries, including one in the first innings of this game; but he was brought over from Western Australia for his bowling.

While amassing more than 50 championship wickets is no mean feat, what The Oval faithful, starved of trophies for so long, need is match-winning performances with the ball. Julian's timing is impeccable. As the pressure has mounted so has his wicket-taking. Culminating in a career best 6 for 37 - his third five wicket haul of the season - which destroyed Northamptonshire, helped Surrey maintain their championship challenge and may well have earned him at least consideration for next summer's tour by the Australians.

He seems finally to have rid himself of a propensity to bowl an uncomfortable number of no balls - Surrey have conceded some 599 runs through no balls in first-class cricket this summer and their total of extras threatens to pass the 1,000 for the season - exchanging them for the more welcome wickets.

He broke the back of the Northamptonshire innings either side of lunch, typically a lower order fightback delayed the end until Julian's return, when he applied the coup de grace by dispatching the stubborn David Ripley after a two-hour vigil by the wicketkeeper for an heroic 55, Curtly Ambrose for a lot less and Paul Taylor for nothing. Ripley's and Ambrose's dismissals crowned a pleasant day for Graham Kersey. The diminutive Surrey wicketkeeper was awarded his county cap at lunchtime.

It left Northamptonshire 11 short of saving the follow-on, but wisely perhaps, Alec Stewart did not enforce it, opting instead to bat and give his attack time to recuperate and no doubt pile up a big enough lead to to ensure victory. His openers, Mark Butcher and Darren Bicknell, went a long way to achieving that with a partnership of 78, before the former departed to a sharp caught and bowled chance to Ambrose.

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