Hamilton-Brown and Ramprakash flay Northamptonshire
Surrey 430 for 5 v Northamptonshire
An unbeaten 137 from Mark Ramprakash and a century by captain Rory Hamilton-Brown helped Surrey into an imperious position as the hosts reached 430 for 5 on the opening day of their County Championship Division Two clash with Northamptonshire.
While Ramprakash took four-and-a-half hours to post the 112th hundred of his illustrious career, Hamilton-Brown galloped along at a run-a-ball for his maiden championship century at The Oval and his fourth in all. He was eventually out for 103.
Northamptonshire added to their own demise by dropping a catch in each of the three sessions and missing a couple of run out attempts against Ramprakash shortly after lunch. But otherwise the 40-year-old right-hander hardly put a foot wrong in collecting 17 boundaries in a near six-hour stay.
Batting first after winning the toss on a steamy morning in SE11, Surrey lost opener Steve Davies in only the fifth over then, after a stand of 48, Championship debutant Tom Lancefield fenced at one from the impressive Zimbabwe pace bowler Elton Chigumbura to be caught behind for 31.
Ramprakash and his rookie skipper Hamilton-Brown combined either side of lunch to add a third-wicket stand of 164 inside 32 overs - Surrey's second best partnership this summer. With a sublime on-drive for four Ramprakash reached 14 and posted his 1,000th first-class run for the season. It was the 20th time Ramprakash has celebrated a four-figure season and the ninth successive summer in Surrey colours.
Conversely, Hamilton-Brown, who is still looking to reach 1,000 first-class runs in his fledgling career, was a touch fortunate to survive at first and might have gone when David Sales edged a low slip chance off Chigumbura. The Surrey captain also picked up fortunate boundaries when nicking between first and second slip off Andrew Hall, then over the cordon with a flashing drive against Chigumbura as Surrey went in at lunch on 118 for 2.
Ramprakash dug in after the interval allowing Hamilton-Brown a free rein to go for his shots, and he raced to a 56-ball 50 with nine fours as they added 100 runs inside an hour after lunch. Hamilton-Brown plundered 14 fours and a six, but his fun ended three runs and three deliveries later when he edged a push drive off Chigumbura throat-high to slip.
Having reached a patient half-century in a shade over two hours, Ramprakash then lost Usman Afzaal to a toe-ended pull shot, then Stewart Walters who, after hitting 31 off only 21 deliveries, top-edged to the keeper to give Chigumbura his third wicket.
Just before the close Ramprakash raised the 400 by drilling a trademark on-drive to the ropes as he and Matt Spriegel added an unbroken 146 for the sixth wicket. Spriegel contributed an attractive 85 not out with 13 fours and a straight driven six off James Middlebrook.