Cricket / County Championship: Kent curse rain: Derek Hodgson reports from Chesterfield

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The Independent Online
Derbyshire 207 and 334-4; Kent 295. Match drawn

ALTHOUGH Kent may not be regarded as too serious contenders for the Championship away from Canterbury, they themselves are keen and ambitious enough to believe that if the more fancied contenders slip up, they will be there to catch the pennant.

After all, if you have risen from 14th to third in the table in only eight weeks anything is possible, anything that is except a means of circumventing Derbyshire's weather. Rain descended from the Pennines after almost an hour's play with such force and intensity that the game could not be resumed until 3.50 yesterday, 50 overs being lost, and the outfield left saturated.

That left the two captains, Kim Barnett and Mark Benson, with some delicate negotiations. When the rain fell Barnett had reached his best of the season, 143, and Derbyshire had won a lead of 179 for the morning's loss of John Morris, mistiming a drive to mid-off.

When play resumed there were a minimum of 38 overs remaining leaving Barnett in a dilemma: to declare then could have presented Benson with the match; to bat on and then declare meant that he would not have enough time to bowl Kent out on what was still a good surface. So Derbyshire batted out time in cool and pleasant sunshine.

Kent frustration showed on and off the field. Richard Ellison finished a spell with a winding run-up and full toss before snatching his sweater; one Kent supporter held up play by standing in front of the sightscreen before being shouted away by angry Derbyshire supporters. Barnett was eventually taken down the leg-side, Chris Adams chipped the next ball to square leg.

The small crowd took all this in fatalistically, the Kent man and party having marched off; they knew that if you pay to watch Championship cricket you cannot be guaranteed excitement and you must never expect a result.