Stewart shows he is alive and kicking

Surrey 333-6 Hampshire 274 (Surrey win by 59 runs)
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Alec Stewart has always been a great competitor. His score of 160 in his first innings of the season for Surrey not only made sure they did not waste a hectic, Sri Lankan style start but also reminded those concerned with the England side that he is alive and kicking as did Robin Smith with his 123 when Hampshire batted.

After Surrey had been sent in, Alistair Brown and David Ward had 40 on the board in five overs and Brown and Stewart then took the score to 128 in 17 overs. In spite of Stewart, the innings now faltered slightly and Surrey found themselves at 188 for 5 in the 32nd over.

If Stewart had been caught at short-midwicket off John Stephenson when he was 62, Hampshire would have been back in the match. As it was, Stewart who had been at his most fluent right from the start when he produced some delightful cover drives made them pay most emphatically for this mistake.

His third 50 came from 23 balls and included 20 in one over from Stephenson. From down on one knee, he effectively swept the medium pacer over wide long on for six and then picked him up square for another. In all, he faced 146 balls hitting three sixes and 18 fours to won the Gold Award.

The Hampshire bowling on a good pitch and without the off-spinner Sean Udal who is nursing an injured rib cartilage, was for the most part amiably innocuous. Early on, the ball was constantly being pitched short and wide of the off stump, making life much too easy for the batsmen.

After a brief flurry of strokes in the opening overs, Hampshire's batting subsided in disappointing fashion to 105 for 6 in the 21st. Smith then began to hit the ball in that splendid no nonsense way of his.

He and Adrian Aymes put on 119 vibrant runs in 20 overs and Smith, who was dropped on four and 40, made 123 in 114 balls. But it was all too late for Hampshire.