Afzaal and Ramprakash punish Middlesex
Mark Ramprakash continued his astonishing assault on his former club Middlesex with another magnificent century on the first day at the Brit Oval.
Ramprakash’s 104th first-class hundred, in his first LV= County Championship Division Two appearance of the season following a two-match suspension for swearing at an umpire, took Surrey to 290 for five by the close of the first day.
In his seventh championship meeting with his former county, for whom he played for 14 years before leaving to join rivals Surrey in 2001, Ramprakash took his run tally to 829 in his tenth innings – and on 126 not out that could improve.
He averaged 100.42 against Middlesex even before he began to dominate their bowlers in this knock, his 51st first-class century in 187 innings for Surrey.
Ramprakash has always been upset by the way Middlesex supporters have treated him since his move across the Thames to Surrey, and never lacks for motivation when he comes up against his former employer.
Surrey’s relegation to the second division last year has given him two more matches in which to wreak havoc against them this summer, and on this evidence – he now averages 118 against them – it will be extremely painful once more for the club he first represented, aged 17, in 1987.
Coming in at 25 for one, when Michael Brown touched a lifting ball from the excellent Tim Murtagh to the keeper, Ramprakash then saw Scott Newman fall to a brilliant diving catch by Dawid Malan at third slip and concentrated initially on defence.
Indeed, his third-wicket partner Usman Afzaal was the batsman who really got the Surrey innings going – justifying Brown’s decision to bat first and snuffing out Middlesex hopes of further early successes.
Of the first 56 runs they put on, Afzaal scored 50. But Ramprakash accelerated serenely, once his careful reconnaissance work was done, and was himself well past fifty when Afzaal, on 82, played forward to Shaun Udal’s off-spin and was bowled off a thin inside edge. Their stand had been worth 143 in 39 overs.
Jon Batty helped Ramprakash add another 80 for the fourth wicket, but while Batty struggled to 29 there was little doubt that Ramprakash would get to three figures at the other end.
Timing the ball sweetly through the covers, and straight-driving the quicker bowlers several times to the boundary with something approaching disdain, Ramprakash completed his hundred from 190 balls, with nine fours.
At the close he had faced 241 balls, hitting 12 boundaries.
Batty and Grant Elliott fell to the second new ball, but 39-year-old Ramprakash – his stamina and concentration superb – just kept going.
He has now scored three hundreds in just five innings for Surrey in 2009, following a pre-season century in the ProArch Trophy tournament in the Middle East and Sunday’s 109 not out against Durham in the Friends Provident Trophy.