Strauss shows promising form
The LV= County Championship Division Two match between Surrey and Middlesex at the Brit Oval petered out to a draw, but not before both Mark Ramprakash and Andrew Strauss added more significant runs to their match aggregates.
Surrey, bottom of the table, set Middlesex a victory target of 374 in 85 overs after Ramprakash had reached his 111th first-class hundred at the start of the final day.
But a century opening stand between Scott Newman and England captain Strauss, who went on to score 61, blunted Surrey’s efforts to secure themselves a much-needed first win of the season. At stumps, Middlesex were 189 for three.
Although Newman was caught behind off the persevering Gareth Batty for 43 in the 33rd over of the Middlesex second innings, Strauss and Owais Shah prevented any further immediate alarms and Surrey knew that victory was beyond them long before Strauss hit straight to short extra cover for the second time in the match.
Middlesex reached tea at 142 for two, and in the final session the only wicket to fall was that of Dawid Malan, who was caught at deep midwicket sweeping at Usman Afzaal’s left-arm spin.
Shah simply decided to bat out time and was 40 not out when hands were shaken on the draw at 5pm.
For Strauss, who also made 92 in the first innings, this match has given him vital time at the crease in his last championship appearance before the start of England’s two-match npower Test series against Bangladesh, which begins next Thursday.
Although he batted generally with assurance during a three-hour and 156-ball stay, Strauss also needed some good fortune as he led Middlesex to safety. Early on he was beaten by a beauty from Jade Dernbach and, on 18, he edged the same bowler through a strangely-vacant third slip.
There was an inside-edged four off Chris Tremlett and Batty also got the ball past Strauss’s outside edge as he strained for the wickets that would have given Surrey a chance of bowling Middlesex out.
Earlier, Ramprakash converted his overnight 86 into an unbeaten 103, before Surrey declared at 207 for three, becoming in the process the first player to score two hundreds in a championship match on seven occasions – three times for Surrey and four times for Middlesex, his previous club.
It was the first time, having hit 223 in Surrey’s first innings, that he had scored a century and a double-century in the same match and only Ricky Ponting and Zaheer Abbas, who have hit two hundreds in a first-class match on eight occasions, now better Wally Hammond and Ramprakash’s seven.
Ramprakash’s first-class record against Middlesex, the county he left in 2000, now stands at 1,384 runs from 15 innings, at an average of 125.