EVEN AT 6,000 miles range, English bowlers are not safe from Brian Lara. He may be away in Trinidad tucking into mum's home-made callaloo spinach soup but his influence lingers on, with Caribbean mercenaries everywhere forced to follow his example or suffer in the comparison.
Desmond Haynes, the clan's elder statesman, has responded quickly to the upstart genius, and yesterday the Middlesex opener hit his second hundred in successive innings. He dominated from the first ball, an Alan Igglesden bouncer which he thumped for four, and faced only 102 more for his century. With Carl Hooper having made 89 the previous day, and Franklyn Stephenson also scoring a hundred, Yorkshire supporters might even see Richie Richardson in the runs soon. Maybe.
Mark Ramprakash, who also has strong West Indian connections, was similarly inspired, adding 161 in 34 overs with Haynes and going on to be seven short of his his first Championship century at the close. Mark Benson switched his bowlers around but to no avail.
By way of variation, Kent then changed wicketkeepers, Trevor Ward taking over as Steve Marsh had a bruised knee. It worked with the stand-in joyously holding on as Matthew Fleming pushed one across Haynes from round the wicket and found the edge.
Earlier Kent, given an injection of purpose by Fleming's 50-ball 46, raised their batting rate. There were two casualties of the new urgency, Neil Taylor's century, and Mark Ealham's right-hand knuckle, cracked in his spirited 42.
With the pitch likely to take spin, Middlesex will again feel the absence of Phil Tufnell whose return after his court case is by no means assured. It appears the county's decision to 'rest' him was brought on by a Second XI game in which Tufnell first refused to play, then did so unprofessionally. Only Mike Gatting's pleas averted a sacking and the matter now awaits the result of the court case in two weeks.
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