Cricket: Cairns is in control

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The Independent Online
Kent. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .394

Nottinghamshire. . . . .242 and 68-0

THE new era that Mike Hendrick is attempting to launch here has three young players of huge potential at its core. Two of them, Chris Cairns and Mark Crawley, yesterday demonstrated why so much hope is invested in them with some fine batting. Alas, the efforts of those around them were so dismal that their excellence counted for little.

Cairns, the 22-year-old New Zealand all-rounder, was denied what would have been a richly deserved century only by a magnificent catch behind the wicket. Crawley, 25, the former Oxford University captain, provided superb support with a mature 81. Their fifth-wicket partnership realised 190 and appeared to have spared Nottinghamshire's blushes after a dreadful start.

It did no such thing. Their parting was followed by an equally undignified clatter of wickets. From 220 for 4, Notts collapsed to 242 all out, and Kent, having amassed 394 over two rain affected days, enforced the follow-on.

Alan Igglesden, carrying extra responsibility with Martin McCague injured, inflicted most of the early damage. Working up a respectable pace, Igglesden had Paul Pollard and Tim Robinson leg before wicket with consecutive balls before making another leave Derek Randall just enough to give him three wickets in four overs.

When Cairns and Crawley were at the crease, it seemed a different game. Respectful at the start towards the spin of Richard Davis and Carl Hooper, Cairns eventually was hitting Davis back over his head. After lunch, the pair were in complete control, which made what happened next all the more difficult to fathom.

Steve Marsh made an excellent catch, diving to his right, to remove Cairns seven short of 100, but no such acrobatics were needed to bring Nottinghamshire to their knees, once Crawley had gone four runs later to a disappointing chip to midwicket.

At least the stable opening that Pollard and Randall gave to Nottinghamshire's second innings suggested such disasters will be rare and that the talents of this pair will not always be wasted.