Matthew Fleming put Surrey in yesterday, the Kent captain probably feeling that after all the rain on Thursday the pitch should have given his seam bowlers something. It did not, and instead offered Mark Butcher and Graham Thorpe another chance to find some sort of form, and Alec Stewart the opportunity to confirm his.
Butcher batted for 121 balls and played one or two good strokes while looking uneasy on and around the off stump, which is nothing new. Thorpe is also in need of a long innings but never suggested this was going to be it.
Both innings came to an end in a manner which they will have found annoying. Butcher square-drove Fleming powerfully but without getting over the ball and Min Patel threw himself to his right at cover and came up with a beauty, two-handed at knee height.
Thorpe's lack of form was illustrated when the Kent seamers, particularly Martin Saggers, kept swinging the ball into his pads and he had difficulty pushing it away through the on side, let alone clipping it to the boundary. He had made 11 when he came half-forward to another which Saggers swung into him and was lbw, perhaps a trifle unluckily.
There was something of a familiar swagger about Stewart as he strode to the middle and this was confirmed by his strokeplay. Fleming was played away through square leg for four; he played a spanking square cut off the front foot against Saggers and he forced Mark Ealham through the covers off the back foot for four more.
Then, best of all, he went back to Ealham, swaying back at the same time to make a fraction more room for himself and with a perpendicular bat drove him to the square cover boundary. They don't come much better than that.
When Rahul Dravid came on to bowl his first over for Kent, Stewart tried to flick him round the corner and was caught behind down the leg side. By then, he had become rather becalmed and Alistair Brown had overtaken him playing some typically robust strokes on both sides of the wicket as Adam Hollioake was to do after tea.
At the start of the day, Ian Ward had also looked in good form before turning David Masters straight to square leg.
Scoreboard (Day 2 of 4)
Surrey (1pt) have scored 232 for 4 against Kent (1)
Kent won toss
Surrey - First Innings
M A Butcher c Patel b Fleming 47 I J Ward c Smith b Masters 38 G P Thorpe lbw b Saggers 11 Ã¿A J Stewart c Nixon b Dravid 36 A D Brown not out 59 *A J Hollioake not out 24 Extras (b6 lb9 w2) 17
Total (for 4, 85.5 overs) 232
Fall: 1-78, 2-101, 3-105, 4-181.
To bat: B C Hollioake, I D K Salisbury, M P Bicknell, A J Tudor, R M Amin.
Umpires: M J Harris and A A Jones.
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