Cricket: Benson's brilliance sparkles in the rain

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The Independent Online
Kent . . . . . . . . . . . . . .311-5

Nottinghamshire

THE DAY was about as mixed as the weather, one of starts (and re- starts) into which were fitted several heavy showers of extravagant shots. The loss of 42 overs was, of course, a drag that everyone could have done without, but then Mark Benson and friends went some way towards lifting the gloom that had descended on the Mote.

Benson yesterday was superb, the Kent captain not at all put off, either through being put in or having to run for cover when it rained. What did flow, and increasingly so to the chagrin of Nottinghamshire's bowlers, were runs from the left-hander's bat. A quick twist on the throttle following tea and a final deluge saw him to his second century of the season.

The first had been a headline- catching 82-ball blast in a winning chase against Sussex at Hove in May, which is still the joint fastest hundred of the summer. This latest effort may have taken another 62 deliveries in the making, but the latter stages of his innings here were every bit as spectacular.

Benson died by the sword in the deep for 131, trying to add to his three sixes and 16 fours. Kent had made 275 in 61 overs and a fourth batting point was a foregone conclusion, as Benson was not alone in the dismantling department once Trevor Ward had had his off-stump broken by Chris Cairns.

It was a Kent colleague, Carl Hooper, that Benson matched in his three-figure fast fling and the West Indian was soon sounding off after David Pennett had taken out Neil Taylor to claim his first Championship wicket. Hooper now took it out on the debutant and savaged Michael Field-Buss, whose two wickets from nine overs cost 65 runs.

If Nottinghamshire were glad to see the back of Hooper for 36, they never did account for Matthew Fleming. Having left his kit in a car park at Gateshead Fell, Fleming begged, borrowed and then battered 46 of his unbeaten 63 in boundaries while also featuring in a fourth-wicket stand of 105 in 16 overs with his captain. A damp day, but what fireworks.

While Graham Cowdrey clipped Cairns to leg and was well taken by Pennett, Fleming was positively beaming after being caught off a no ball from the same bowler before reaching double figures. Small wonder Nottinghamshire winced when he struck Kevin Evans for 10 runs in two balls.

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