Watkinson rues missed chance

Lv County Championship
Mark Ramprakash

Mark Ramprakash plays fluently through square leg for one of his 28 boundaries in the day

Lancashire are lamenting the moment they reprieved Mark Ramprakash before he had scored a single run of his unbeaten 180 at the Brit Oval.

The LV County Championship Division One leaders were frustrated by the Surrey rock as he batted for almost the entire first day, keeping out 263 balls and hitting 28 fours and a six out of Surrey’s 374 for six.

Lancashire cricket manager Mike Watkinson unsurprisingly identified his team’s failure to run Ramprakash out on nought as “crucial” on a day which saw a regression in their obvious chances of clinching a first outright title in 73 years by the end of this week.

Watkinson judged the opportunity to see off the prolific Ramprakash for a duck as one which should be taken “more often than not”.

Once Paul Horton had failed to gather Sajid Mahmood’s flicked throw at the stumps, Ramprakash made the Red Rose pay with his 96th first-class hundred.

Watkinson praised the former England batsman and others in the Surrey top order for coming through a tough morning session, after the hosts had chosen to bat first.

Sajid Mahmood

Sajid Mahmood during an excellent opening spell

“I thought we bowled particularly well in the first session, and it took some excellent batting to keep our seamers at bay,” he said.

“I thought we might have made some bigger inroads - and perhaps the crucial moment of the day was not running Ramps out when we had a chance to do that.

“The form he is in, the type of player he is, he booked himself in for a day’s batting.”

Ramprakash will start day two within sight of a 13th double-century to go with one triple - and should he reach 300, not only will Lancashire’s victory hopes be in tatters but he will have 2,000 runs for the second successive summer.

Watkinson retains optimism that Lancashire can still push for the win which would make sure of the title, irrespective of what their rivals Durham and Sussex achieve in their own final matches elsewhere.

“I thought Saj (Sajid Mahmood) and Chappy (Glen Chapple) bowled good spells with the new ball. It’s a tiring job out there - they kept going all through the day,” he said.

“Surrey played quite aggressively - (James) Benning (51) gave them an injection of runs at a time when we could have done with putting a brake on things.

“But the game is moving forward at a reasonable pace, and that means we are still in it.

“The break overnight might work to our advantage; we can hope to get Ramps cold in the morning and then clean them up quickly.”