Ramprakash rampant

Middlesex 150-3 v Yorkshire

A bitter day under steely skies was broken by three passages of play amounting to two and a half hours, some sort of reward for the fortitude of those spectators huddled beneath swathes of clothing.

There was no play here at all on Thursday and none until 2.45pm yesterday after the covers failed to protect the run-ups at the Kirkstall Lane end.

Middlesex, the leaders, were keen to play but found themselves subjected to an uncomfortable time after Yorkshire had won the toss. The light was invariably poor and the pitch had enough spice to keep Yorkshire's five- strong battery of seamers running in with gusto. The left-arm spinner Richard Stemp, their leading wicket-taker, was not required to play.

There were early casualties. The 13th ball of the match, bowled by Darren Gough, sent the South African opener, Jacques Kallis, off the field with a damaged hand. He was soon followed by Paul Weekes, caught behind off a fine ball from Chris Silverwood, and Mike Gatting, yorked by Craig White.

From this, however, emerged Mark Ramprakash, with an innings of immense class, in the presence of two of the England selectors, which is bound to start some people talking. Ramprakash has had 19 opportunities to make the transition from county to Test cricket, which some see as quite enough, but there is no arguing with his talent, nor with his current form.

Captaincy plainly suits him. In six first-class innings since taking over from Gatting at the Middlesex helm, Ramprakash has passed 50 five times and a hundred once. What is more, his team has won three times in four matches. He was dropped on 57 yesterday, a hard chance put down by David Byas at second slip, but was otherwise flawless.

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