Strauss finds form at last
Surrey 490 v Middlesex 148 for 0
Andrew Strauss used his return to the scene of his Ashes-winning triumph last summer to rediscover his batting form for Middlesex in their London derby against Surrey.
Strauss finished the second day of the County Championship Division Two clash on 54 not out after earlier watching former England batsman Mark Ramprakash turn an overnight century into a superb 223 as Surrey totalled 490. With Scott Newman also hitting an unbeaten 79 in his first match against his former county, Middlesex reached 148 for 0 in reply by the close.
England captain Strauss certainly needed some runs in his last county appearance before the start next week of the two-Test series against Bangladesh. In 11 previous Championship innings for Middlesex this season, Strauss had made only 262 runs at an average of 23.81, with just one half-century. In three further Clydesdale Bank 40 one-day innings, he had managed only another 60 runs with a top score of 26.
Strauss, who missed the short winter tour to Bangladesh in order to rest, also had to watch from afar as Paul Collingwood and the England Twenty20 team became world champions with their magnificent victory against Australia in the Caribbean on Sunday.
He would not have wanted to link up again with England without some significant runs behind him and it was his good fortune to find himself batting on a true Oval surface.
Ramprakash's innings, too, showed Strauss just what was possible as the 40-year old moved on majestically from his overnight 125. It was Ramprakash's 11th double-ton for Surrey, putting him just one behind Sir Jack Hobbs' county record of 12. Hobbs, though, made 144 centuries for Surrey; this was Ramprakash's 57th three-figure score for the county.
In addition, Ramprakash moved into joint fifth position in the all-time list of first-class double-century makers when he thrashed a short ball from Dawid Malan through the covers for four. He now has sixteen in his career, putting him level with Hobbs, CB Fry and Graeme Hick.
Gary Wilson hit 10 fours in an excellent 62, dominating the strike and the scoring in an 88-run stand with Ramprakash for Surrey's seventh wicket, before he was stumped giving Malan the charge.
Ramprakash was eventually ninth out, hitting high to long on, after facing 395 balls and striking a six and 26 fours in a 564-minute stay at the crease.
Surrey also announced during the day that Younis Khan, the former Pakistan batsman, will be joining the club until mid-July and could be in the country in time to play in Friday's Clydesdale Bank 40 fixture against Glamorgan in Cardiff.
Surrey professional cricket manager Chris Adams said: "I am confident that bringing a world class player such as Younus Khan to Surrey will have a very positive effect on the side.
"As well as benefiting from the weight of runs we hope he will bring, we have a number of young batsman who will doubtless benefit greatly from being able to train and play alongside him."
Brian Lara, however, will not be joining Surrey for the Friends Provident T20 following talks between the club and the great West Indian, and Indian leg-spinner Piyush Chawla - Surrey's original overseas signing for this season - has been refused permission to play county cricket by the BCCI.