Cricket: Ealham's efforts all in vain

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The Independent Online
Derbyshire 248 for 8; Kent 245 for 8

Derbyshire win by 3 runs

AFTER their mauling here in the championship, one might say Derbyshire needed this. Having roared through the top half of the Sunday leaders' order, however, they almost wimped out, Mark Ealham launching the first ball of the final over for six but failing to repeat the dose with six required off the last ball.

The Derbyshire innings was an erratic affair dominated by Chris Adams, a blond, burly and decidedly bullish performer who simply picked up from where he left off against Kent last year. On that occasion his unbeaten 141 incorporated 10 sixes; here there were three during an 85-ball assault worth 92 before the ubiquitous Matthew Fleming, having earlier run out Tim O'Gorman, chipped in again to win a leg-before ruling.

Deconstructed by Adams in their opening salvoes, Alan Igglesden and Martin McCague returned, smarting, and the middle order caved in, five wickets seeping away in 13 overs until Matthew Vandrau and Simon Base applied a tourniquet. Notorious for biting bails in moments of stress, Base opted for a more conventional means of relief, acquiring a one-day best of 31 in a almost studied stand of 55 in 11 overs that at least gave the visitors something to defend against the country's deepest batting orders.

In the event, it was an inch or two short. Never one to hang around, Fleming slashed his first ball to the ropes then skied the next to short extra, setting an unfortunate tone.

Adams pouched that one, followed up by intercepting a full-blooded drive off Trevor Ward that would otherwise had necessitated a new set of dentures, then scrawled to catch Neil Taylor millimetres from the turf.

The composed spin of Vandrau and Richard Sladdin fettered Kent further but Carl Hooper carried on nudging and nurdling and occasionally unfurling something majestic, none more so than one montrous, effortless sweep off Vandrau that soared over the marquees. He and Graham Cowdrey swatted 51 in harness. Cowdrey and Steve Marsh added 66, but for all Ealham's bluster the order proved fractionally too tall.

At the end it was hard to distinguish winners from losers, clad as both were in powdery blue concoctions. Away strips - now there's an attractive concept for the Test and County Cricket Board marketing department.