Ramprakash goes on rampage

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The Independent Online
DAVID LLEWELLYN

reports from Lord's

Middlesex 311-5 v Warwickshire

Shaun Pollock's first (and only previous) visit to Lord's was as a spectator when South Africa thrashed England two years ago. His debut yesterday as a player was marked by some stunning, at times unplayable, pace bowling in the first half of the day as Middlesex struggled, but he ended it as a spectator, watching Mark Ramprakash compile the 31st hundred of his first-class career.

That century, his first against Warwickshire, was made at the expense of Pollock's colleagues, as only two of Ramprakash's 17 boundaries came off the young South African bowler. Pollock was as sparing with runs off his bowling as the South African authorities would like Warwickshire to be in their use of him. Dr Ali Bacher, managing director of the United Cricket Board of South Africa, has even telephoned Edgbaston to remind them of a promise not to overbowl Pollock at a time when he faces nine Tests and 25 one-day internationals in the forthcoming domestic season.

The way Pollock bowled in the morning, generating bounce and movement through the air, he will not have to bowl that long. In a 25-ball spell either side of lunch he ripped out the core of the Middlesex batting with 3 for 10. It was a feat achieved in front of a large party of schoolchildren, whose thin cheers made the headquarters of cricket sound like the inside of a swimming pool, and his Middlesex victims certainly looked out of their depth.

Only Ramprakash, and much later Keith Brown, managed to swim against the tide. For six hours Ramprakash resisted, until bad light drove everyone off prematurely. What chances he presented came after he had reached three figures, and anyway by then the damage was done. He was imperious throughout, displaying a huge range of shots and smacking one effortless six off Neil Smith's off-spin, and he finished the day on 164, the 10th time he has passed 150 in his career.

Brown did his bit, contributing 60 to an unbroken stand of 173 - beating the 74-year-old sixth-wicket record for Middlesex against Warwickshire - and not even Pollock could stem the flow of runs. Warwickshire, reeling from two defeats on the trot - they have now lost as many (three) this season as they did in two years of winning the Championship in 1994 and 1995 - and shorn of Tim Munton (back twinge), also had to make do without their captain, Dermot Reeve (hip injury), and the England opener, Nick Knight.

Knight was a disappointed man when he was rested. Nine days ago he was apparently ready to play a Test match; now he is not even certain to play in the Sunday League match.

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