Cricket: Cairns savours the stop-start show

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The Independent Online
Kent. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .359

Nottinghamshire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .113-3

THE MOTE was not exactly awash with runs yesterday, but then there was a fair amount of the wet stuff dropping in from a leaden sky. One man, though, was not exactly gushing with complaints at the on-off nature of the proceedings, Chris Cairns leading the mopping-up operation against Kent with an effective, if unusual, spell of bowling.

On reflection, spells would be rather more apt when casting around for a description of how the young New Zealander went about collecting his wickets. Kent had resumed on 311 for 5, and spectators here were looking for another blast from Matthew Fleming, unbeaten on 63 and feeling more at home after the arrival by special delivery of the kit he had left behind him in a Gateshead car park.

Fleming said, however, that knowing his luck he would probably be out first ball and, thanks to Cairns, that is precisely what happened. On the brisk side of medium, the son of Lance served up a tempting half-volley which few, let alone Fleming, could resist and, instead of adding to his 11 boundaries, the mis-struck drive flew straight to Mark Crawley at extra cover.

Round one, then, to Nottinghamshire, who were celebrating again three overs later when Steve Marsh was leg before to Kevin Evans. An interruption that cost 10 overs could not spare Kent, either, from Cairns making a further inroad as, with his first delivery on the resumption, he had Richard Davis caught in the gully. One ball sent down, one wicket taken, and time to beat another retreat.

There was now the delicious prospect of Cairns making a hat- trick out of first balls in these mini- sessions, and Martin McCague could have obliged him with a lofted shot that an alert square-leg, had there been one in position, could have snapped up. Cairns, though, had to wait until after the third stoppage, which followed an early lunch, before he eventually accounted for McCague.

Yesterday's broken-time work meant Cairns had taken 3 for 17 from 10 overs - four of them maidens - and, while Evans took the final Kent wicket, Cairns finished with a haul of 5 for 75 to put alongside the Championship best of 6 for 70 that he acquired last month against Lancashire at Trent Bridge.

Cairns at least gave us something to talk about other than trying to figure out why Kent decided to bat out their innings, which was finally concluded for 359 soon after three o'clock. The one excuse was that they had been put in. As it was, Nottinghamshire were rapidly one down, Chris Broad dispatching Alan Igglesden's loosener to the boundary but then holing out to McCague in the gully when attempting to repeat the shot three balls later.

From there, Paul Pollard and Tim Robinson added 40 for the second wicket and Robinson and Paul Johnson 60 for the third. Ultimately, as if the rain had not been trying enough, bad light resulted in a permanent halt - Robinson within sight of a half- century, Nottinghamshire into three figures, and 51 overs lost in the day.