Surrey struggle against spinners

County Championship: Rampant Ramprakash n Notts' best n Terrier Russell n Essex blunder n Durham graft
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The Independent Online

reports from Lord's

Middlesex 425 Surrey 182-9

The cockpit and nose of an English Electric Lightning jet fighter is parked just inside the Grace Gates. The natural assumption was that it was a clever advertisement by Surrey for a new fast bowler; it turned out to be an RAF recruiting campaign. Shame - they could do with a Tornado or two down at The Oval.

Fortified by Mark Ramprakash's second 200 of his career - his first, 233, was made against Surrey thre years ago - Middlesex rarely relaxed their grip on this match.

If they were ever in danger of doing so, the captain's forthright tones would wake up team-mates, sleeping members, and those few pigeons who followed the Supporters' Club coach from The Oval.

It was a hot day - too hot for Surrey's top order who, when faced with the guile of John Emburey and Phil Tufnell, melted away. In the comparative cool of mid-morning, Ramprakash took only 23 minutes to add the extra 15 to pass the double hundred. A new career-best seemed certain until he gave 17- year-old Alex Tudor his third wicket of the innings with a tame turn to square leg.

Keith Brown's monolithic innings, which lasted for six and a half hours and included six fours for a total of 86, was ended by a slip catch, and the last six wickets fell for 34 runs. Surrey were off chasing 425 at 12.55pm, were 10 for 0 at lunch, and 8 for 1 one over afterwards, curious progress even for them.

What happened was that four byes were reduced to two byes at the interval, while Alec Stewart, meeting a ball of full length, went on to his back foot and, trying a grotesque cross-bat pull, nicked on to lose his middle stump.

Mike Gatting could hardly wait to get his spinners on to this dry and dusty surface, and once Jason Ratcliffe had been snatched at short leg off Angus Fraser, the tweakers rapidly reduced Surrey to 85 for 5 before the first real resistance developed from Andrew Smith and Nadeem Shahid. Smith began by pulling Emburey for six, and the sixth wicket added 63 in 29 overs, Fraser returning to remove Smith.

Shahid managed a patient 76 off 141 balls, before misjudging Emburey's length and pulling to midwicket. Surrey finished 243 behind, with Emburey boasting figures of 4 for 50.