Cricket: Cowdrey's day

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The Independent Online
Northamptonshire 235-7 Kent 236-6 Kent won by four wickets

The wheels might just be falling off Northamptonshire's season with a clatter. As the Sunday League leaders, they cracked as Kent, the reigning champions and still well-placed, clambered higher in the table.

They won with eight balls to spare partly through the pugilistic stroke play of Graham Cowdrey with 52 not out from 36 balls. He took 15 from a crucial over bowled by Paul Taylor, who proceeded to concede 14 from his next, the 35th.

Cowdrey had also been involved in some friendly banter with the crowd at square leg. When David Capel was crucially run out when moving into full flow, Cowdrey was quizzed about the margin.

He indicated with both hands, without saying a word, that it was by a fraction of an inch and when the spectators continued their questioning, he said: "I shall mention that to Barry Meyer (the umpire) the next time I see him."

Cowdrey had heavy involvement in the definitive final stages of a game in which Tony Penberthy made his best Sunday score of 70 from 55 balls, with three sixes for Northamptonshire, whose Championship season has been non-existent.

The beaten Benson & Hedges Cup finalists, they won all their first 13 limited overs games this season but have lost six of the next nine.

Matthew Fleming is the man who somehow makes things happen for Kent. He dismissed Mal Loye with his first ball and later thrashed 72 from 74 deliveries before being bowled by Capel.

Cowdrey shared an influential six wicket partnership, worth 56 from six overs with Will House, a young and rare Yorkshireman playing for Kent.

Northamptonshire, put in, had appreciated Richard Montgomerie's 66 and Tim Walton added 40 from 41 balls.

Fielding like potential champions seems beyond Northamptonshire's compass. What is more, direction is uncertain with Alan Fordham, in his last year of contract, being dropped again. He led the team in the Championship match that ended prematurely in defeat on Saturday.

This was Kent's day - and that of Cowdrey. The crowd trooped away disconsolate and with good reason because, in a tight table, Northamptonshire suddenly do not figure in the upper confidence zone.

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