Ramps overcomes ailments in ton
Mark Ramprakash scored his first hundred of 2009, despite suffering from a bad back, blisters, a sore throat and a headache.
The 39-year-old former England batsman made 127 not out to lead Surrey to a close-run victory over United Arab Emirates in the Pro ARCH Trophy in Abu Dhabi.
The UAE made 269 for six, and Surrey only just managed to get over the line, reaching 270 for five with one over remaining.
Ramprakash batted for nearly three-and-a-half hours, but was just pleased to be back playing competitive cricket after a five-month break.
“It's nice to get into some sort of rhythm,” he said. “We've got a lot of one-day cricket up front at the start of the season.
“In one-day cricket you are always under pressure to take your attack to the bowlers, whereas in the longer form of the game, I can take my time and play the ball on its merits.”
Ramprakash has not played against the UAE before, and he was highly impressed with the standards they achieved.
“I thought they played really well,” he added. “They bowled really well with the new ball.
“Even though we had a reasonable start with 50 for two, they kept coming and got a couple of wickets. They got Usman (Afzaal) out, which is a big wicket.
“In county cricket so often we've played against people before, but here, of course, we haven't done.
“You've got to very quickly sum them up and organise where you are going to score. We had to work really hard to get that win today.”
It was predominantly down to Chris Schofield that Surrey were not left with more to chase.
The leg-spinner claimed 1-35 from his 10 overs and then took a magnificent catch to dismiss Ravi Verma, just as the batsman was looking to up the ante.
“I've been playing a bit of cricket in Australia for four months and that's helped,” said Schofield.
“To bowl the way I did today, particularly after the operations on my thumbs last year, I was very happy and hopefully I can progress.”
Schofield is another who has not come up against the UAE before, but he saw it as a chance to try out some variations and mix up his deliveries, to show them exactly what he could do.
“It's good because they actually have to take the time to look at what deliveries I can bowl and the variations that I've got,” he admitted.
“I just kept to the plan of the way I bowl and the areas that I know I am attacking and potentially trying to get wickets. It is for them to try to combat that.
“All I need to do is stick to what I know and what I can do and hopefully things will go well. The confidence just gets more and more with the more overs that I actually bowl.”
Schofield's agility in the field is not to be underestimated either, with a running catch over his shoulder the highlight of the match.
“I think it held up a bit in the wind,” he said. “I thought it was sailing quite far over my head. I had to run probably 15-20 yards out of the ring to take it over my right shoulder.
“They are never the easiest catches to take and it is a difficult sky to see the ball in, but I think I judged it quite well.”
Surrey play Middlesex in Sharjah tomorrow, the first clash between these rivals outside of London, in what is a crucial match for both teams in this tournament.