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Page last updated at 17:34 GMT, Wednesday, 16 April 2008 18:34 UK

Ramprakash puts Flintoff in shade

The Oval, day one of four (close): Surrey 242-2 v Lancashire

Mark Ramprakash
Ramprakash was once again in unstoppable form

Mark Ramprakash overshadowed Andrew Flintoff's return to competitive action with his 98th first-class century.

Flintoff, who had a fourth ankle operation in September, struck with his 20th ball as Surrey struggled to 56-2 in the Championship against Lancashire.

But Ramprakash, who was dropped on nought and could have been run out on 24, joined forces with skipper Mark Butcher to put the home side in charge.

Ramprakash was on 102 and Butcher 80 as Surrey closed on a comfortable 242-2.

All eyes, including those of national selector Geoff Miller, were on Flintoff, who is aiming to be in the squad for the first Test against New Zealand next month.

The start was delayed until 1310 BST by overnight rain but Lancashire - denied the title last season by defeat in this fixture when Ramprakash made twin tons - soon made up for lost time.

Oliver Newby trapped Jonathan Batty plumb lbw with a yorker and Flintoff, who bowled at a lively pace in three spells, saw Scott Newman pull a short ball to long-leg.

Ramprakash, looking to score more than 2,000 first-class runs for a third straight season, was dropped by keeper Luke Sutton off Newby and saw Flintoff miss with a throw from mid-off when a direct would have left him yards short.

After that he and Butcher unfurled some sparkling shots and Ramprakash eased to three figures by slashing and pulling Newby for fours.

A Flintoff bouncer encouraged umpires George Sharp and Peter Hartley to offer the batsmen the light and play was curtailed early.

After his opening-day century, Surrey batsman Mark Ramprakash told BBC London 94.9:

"Early in the season it's good to get a long knock under your belt to feel at home and get into the season and the conditions.

"Here I was scratching around horribly for about an hour-and-a-half, and time at the crease I managed to stay in there and experience helps with that.

"It got a bit better and a bit more fluent the longer I carried on."

see also
Simmons predicts Flintoff impact
15 Apr 08 |  Lancashire
Flintoff misses out on MCC match
31 Mar 08 |  Cricket
England in no rush for Flintoff
27 Mar 08 |  England
Flintoff targets Lord's comeback
21 Mar 08 |  England

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