Cricket: Ealham revives Kent cause

Nottinghamshire 216; Kent 376-8
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The Independent Online
Kent were probably rubbing their hands at the prospect of batting all day (at least) against Nottinghamshire's inexperienced attack under another cloudless sky yesterday.

But events here have had a habit of not going strictly to plan and another resilient performance in the field kept Nottinghamshire in touch until, in a difficult final session, Mark Ealham and Paul Strang took toll of their world-weary attack by adding 126 for the ninth wicket, Ealham completing his century from 202 balls, with12 fours and a six.

But they are learning fast, these Nottinghamshire youngsters. Their new- found spirit and growing self-belief was evident, even when things were going wrong. Yet Kent must have cursed the folly that got one or two of their batsmen out when well set.

With eight wickets down, their lead was only 34 and all the hard work done by David Fulton, who anchored the innings for some 31/2 hours in making a Championship-best 94, looked like being squandered. At that point, Kent's depth of batting was illustrated when Ealham and Strang got a grip of things. Ealham clubbed the bowling heartily off the front foot while Strang's driving was handsome. They ensured that Kent's first innings lead was more than three figures and Nottinghamshire's batsmen face a test of character today.

There was still something in the pitch for the bowler prepared to put it in. Mark Bowen looked capable of emulating what Matthew Fleming had done for Kent, though there was probably no margin for error with the ball moving around less.

Fulton, to his undisguised disgust, nicked him to slip when a thoroughly- deserved maiden Championship hundred looked there for the taking. Though not short of a crisply-timed stroke or two himself, he had been selflessly content to hold one end, while others to force the pace.

This ploy mis-fired when Alan Wells was caught off a mis-timed pull and in mid-afternoon Richard Bates, the off-spinner, gave Nottinghamshire a degree of control. Though he was cut more often than he would have liked and there was negligible spin, he floated the ball effectively away from the right-hander. Graham Cowdrey, for one, did not get his drift, you might say, and was caught at backward point when he went down the pitch to try to assault him.

Encouraged by that, Bates relaxed and found a more consistent full-length which earned him the wickets of Fleming, caught by Wayne Noon, and Steve Marsh, who fell to an athletic catch at slip by Graeme Archer.