Lewis proving an astute signing

Cricket: Kent 225 Surrey 360

There can be few doubters left who do not believe that Chris Lewis was an astute signing by Surrey. He has served notice that his all-round skills have not deserted him as he helped haul his new county into the realms of respectability with his first half-century of the season.

If Lewis, who took two Kent wickets the day before, continues his current vein of form, there is no question that his international career will be resurrected.

He was positively messianic at the crease yesterday as he and Surrey's other all-round acquisition, Brendon Julian, coped with dodgy light and awkward Kent bowling.

Surrey were looking none too steady when the pair came together with six wickets down and 19 runs adrift of the Kent first innings.

But by the time Kent's pacey practitioner, Julian Thompson, was walking off to deserved applause at the close of play, having returned a career- best 5 for 72, Lewis and Julian had done their stuff.

They added 89 for the seventh wicket before Lewis was caught - at the third attempt by Martin McCague off Carl Hoo- per's off-spin - having made a high-class 61 in just over an hour and a half, with a six and half a dozen fours included in the 92 balls he faced.

In that time, Lewis had mastered Kent's own beefy Big Mac McCague, who exploited the bouncy wicket to the full in 28 overs that were worthy of a lot more than the two wickets he ended up with.

Julian looks a great signing for the county. His innings of 74, which included a couple of big sixes and plenty of style and confidence all around the wicket, means that Surrey no longer have much of a tail, and what there is left of it will give a vigorous wag.

But while praise is due to Lewis and Julian, it took a superlative innings of quality from Mark Butcher to hold the Surrey innings together earlier in the day.

His fall, six runs short of what would have been a fourth first-class century, was cruel. He played over one of fuller length from the worthy doctor after more than four hours at the crease.

The chanceless knock by the left-handed opener marked him out for higher things later in the season.

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