London: Surrey finished the opening day of England's County Championship season in a strong position of 461 for four against Sussex at The Oval on Friday.
The First Division match had begun on a sombre note with players and spectators observing a two-minute silence in memory of Ben Hollioake and Umer Rashid. In the words of the scorecard, the pair had been "cruelly taken from us in the prime of their lives," during the close season. Surrey and England all-rounder Hollioake was killed in a car crash in Perth, Australia, while spinner Rashid drowned during newly promoted Sussex's pre-season tour to Grenada. In front of chairman of selectors David Graveney, Alec Stewart made 99 while Test colleague Mark Ramprakash, also without an England central contract, chipped in with 56. But the bulk of Surrey's runs came from two of its lesser-known batsmen, Ally Brown and Nadeem Shahid, who each finished on 132 not out. At Old Trafford, Australia's Michael Bevan was one of five Leicestershire batsmen who made a half-century. Left-hander Bevan, regarded by many as the world's best One- day batsman, marked his debut for the Midlands side with 66. But it took the former Yorkshire and Sussex favourite an unusually long time to make his runs. His near six-hours at the crease was split into two visits after he was hit on the finger by former England seamer Peter Martin. Leicestershire was all out for 385 with Lancashire nine without loss at stumps. At Canterbury, Robert Key's 160 was the cornerstone of Kent's 240 for two against Hampshire. Kent captain David Fulton continued his fine form of last season with 98. In the Second Division, Gloucestershire's Australia One-day specialist Ian Harvey took four for 75 with his medium pacers against Worcestershire at New Road. But the home side still finished the day well placed at 302 for seven, former Leicestershire batsman Ben Smith celebrating his Worcestershire debut with 129. Elsewhere, South African Sven Koenig made exactly 100 for Middlesex in its total of 326 for eight against Durham at Chester-le-Street. In the day's other Championship match, Derbyshire captain Dominic Cork signalled his intention to regain an England place by taking four for 47 against Glamorgan. Cork's efforts helped reduce Glamorgan to 163 for eight in Cardiff. But the fast- medium all-rounder could only manage 33 as Derbyshire was earlier bowled out for 217. Paceman Simon Jones, son of former Glamorgan and England quick Jeff, took six for 45.
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