Cricket: Derbyshire's winning chance ended by rain

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THE WEATHER had the final word at Derby yesterday, where Derbyshire saw their hopes of a fourth County Championship victory washed away by rain.

Kent went into the final day in a desperate position on 104 for five, only nine runs ahead, but in the end Mark Ealham and Matthew Fleming only had to survive 32 deliveries.

No play was possible before lunch, and the scheduled 3pm start was delayed by a further five minutes when the fourth light on the indicator came on as the umpires walked out.

Despite the murky conditions, the ball did little for the Derbyshire seamers in the brief passage of play although Kevin Dean, who took a hat- trick on Saturday, had a confident lbw appeal against Ealham turned down.

Ealham drove Dean through mid-off for four and then turned Dominic Cork off his hip to reach 50 in 112 minutes. When the rain returned after 20 minutes play, he was unbeaten on 61 and Kent had extended their lead to 34.

There was further misery for Derbyshire with the news that batsman Adrian Rollins is unlikely to play again this season due to a back injury which has been diagnosed as a degenerative disc problem. The 6ft 5ins opener has been put on a recovery programme of rest and exercise.

Nottinghamshire gained some justification for batting on in their first innings when the final day of their match against Northamptonshire was washed out at Trent Bridge.

Their reluctance to declare on Saturday evening raised a few eyebrows and ruled out the possibility of a run chase today.

But after the umpires, Allan Jones and Vanburn Holder, were forced to abandon the game as a draw, the Nottinghamshire manager, Alan Ormrod, said: "The weather forecast had some bearing on that decision.

"We have been told that there was a serious threat of rain causing major disruption to the final day, and so we felt in the circumstances that it was best to go for maximum batting points rather than declare."

n Ticket sales for the deciding fifth Test between England and South Africa at Headingley, which starts on Thursday, have passed the pounds 1m mark.

Yorkshire have sold over pounds 200,000 worth of tickets in the last seven days following England's eight-wicket win at Trent Bridge last week which levelled the series at 1-1.

There are still seats available for the first four days of the match, which starts on Thursday, with Sunday tickets guaranteeing free admission on Monday.

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