reports from The Oval
Surrey 342-8 v Essex
Surrey have been down these last few weeks and Alistair Brown has been on the carpet, hauled up before the beak for repeated profligacy. Having made 92 against Glamorgan before holing out going for a big one he was dropped next match, due to a culmination of injudicious, self-inflicted dismissals.
The lesson has been learned. Yesterday Brown was a study in concentration as he made his way, with controlled aggression, to the 10th first-class hundred of his career. Unfortunately, having reached three figures he spent 21 balls bogged down and in attempting possibly to hit his way out executed an ugly hoick and was comfortably taken by Paul Prichard at short mid-on.
Whether Brown's 186-ball effort, which steered Surrey to three batting points before his departure, will have done enough to appease his chiefs remains to be seen. He certainly showed a lot more responsibility. The six he hit off John Childs was well out of harm's way, as were the 10 boundaries, a modest bag by the Big Shot's usual standards.
Brown had emerged shortly before lunch after the opener, Jason Ratcliffe, was out five short of a half-century, mis-hooking. Brown joined the prolific Mark Butcher, author of a number of cultured innings this season already, and by the time the interval arrived the left hander had reached his fifth half- century of the summer to go with his two hundreds.
Butcher's wicket, well taken down the leg side by Robert Rollins - the second of the wicketkeeper's three victims of the day - was a disappointing end to a fluent innings six overs into the afternoon, but Brown took over and together with Nadeem Shahid, the latter facing his former colleagues, put on 110 for the fourth wicket. It needed a sturdy little knock from the wicketkeeper, Graham Kersey, though, to take Surrey within sight of a rare fourth batting point, a feat they have achieved just twice previously this year.