Middlesex v Surrey, County Championship, 3rd day, Lord's June 10, 2005

All square as Brown cuts loose

Surrey 460 (Brown 152*, Thornely 81, Clinton 73, Richardson 6-106) lead Middlesex 437 by 23 runs

Ali Brown on his way to his hundred © Getty Images
A sparkling and characteristically boundary-strewn 152 not out by Ali Brown gave Surrey a slim first-innings lead on an overcast day against Middlesex at Lord's. With only one day left, the odds are still on a draw, but Surrey could still force an improbable win if they were to bowl Middlesex out fairly cheaply tomorrow. Although only 20 wickets have fallen in three days so far, the pitch showed a few hints that it might be getting a little more inconsistent.

The beauty of Brown is you know what you are getting, and he was soon into his stride after Alan Richardson had removed Richard Clinton without adding to his overnight 73. Brown was in no mood to be subdued, and from the moment Richardson struck again, Jonathan Batty holing out to Paul Weekes at third man, Surrey took firm control.

Brown and Dominic Thornely feasted on Middlesex's all-seam attack cutting and driving with power and authority. Thornely, who a week ago was chilling out doing a little fishing in Australia, found his stride and hit the shot of the day, a straight drive which shattered a window in the refurbished pavilion.

Dominic Thornely hits out © Getty Images
Their stand of 184 in two-and-a-half hours was ended when one from Scott Styris kept low and crept under Thornely's jab, but the veteran Martin Bicknell hung around with Brown long enough to finally deflate Middlesex's hopes. With Mark Ramprakash out of the match with a cracked thumb, the tail had beckoned.

Bicknell eventually fell for 33 to a questionable leg-before to the occasional seam of Ed Joyce, the eighth bowler used by Ben Hutton, and as Brown cut loose, Surrey's tail fell away in the hunt for quick runs as the gloom descended.

If Brown dominated with bat, it was yet another successful day for Richardson whose six wickets took his season total to 38, the same as his previous best in a whole summer.

Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo