Mark Ramprakash struts to century in Surrey win
Surrey 265 for 6 (Ramprakash 104*, Wilson 39, Hamilton-Brown 36) beat Emerging Cape Cobras 190(Birkenstock 87, Dernbach 4 for 39, Batty 3 for 36)
Mark Ramprakash exchanged ballroom glad rags for Surrey's glitzy, new black and lime one-day strip to stroke an unbeaten century that led his side to a comfortable 75-run win in the opening Emirates Airline Forty40 match in Abu Dhabi.
Fresh from a UK tour with the Strictly Come Dancing crew that has restricted him to only three net sessions since Christmas, Ramprakash looked as though he had barely been away from the crease as he showed his young county-team mates just how to build an innings.
After a shot-gun start from Rory Hamilton-Brown and Michael Brown of 63 inside seven overs, the Surrey innings was in danger of petering out when Usman Afzaal and then Matt Spriegel also tossed away their own wickets.
Though he had only landed in the UAE 24 hours earlier, Ramprakash was not in the mood for frivolous gestures. He was here to enjoy serious time at the crease, and how he reveled in it.
Content to waltz singles and manoeuvre the ball around until he felt comfortable in his more accustomed summer role of master bladesman, Ramprakash scored only his second boundary in reaching a pedestrian, yet chanceless half-century.
In tandem with chirpy Irishman Gary Wilson, the former England batsman added 98 for the sixth wicket and, once settled, felt able, as he put it to 'move through the gears'. Eight more fours and a brace of sixes followed to complete his century from 90 balls.
"I'm a fairly long way from where I want to be yet," said Ramprakash, who scored a century here at the Zayed Stadium in last year's pre-season event, "and there were times when it felt a bit ugly, but it was a very good work out."
The rookie Cape Cobras, with an average age of 22, found the asking rate of 6.65 a bit too much and their pursuit soon came off the rails in the face of some tight seam bowling from Jade Dernbach with 4 for 39 and the wily offspin of Gareth Batty with 3 for 36.
They were saved from complete capitulation by Uwe Birkenstock, a stylish right-hander who timed the ball beautifully on a slow pitch to score 87 out of the Cobras total of 190 as Surrey wrapped up their win with 12 balls left.
Mark Pennell is the managing director of freelance reporting and public relations agency Kent & Sussex Sport