Cricket: Headley in for the kill

at Maidstone Warwickshire 219-8 Kent 221-9 Kent win by one wicket
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The Independent Online
DEAN HEADLEY was the hero of Kent last night after smashing the winning boundary in gathering gloom at the end of a tense CGU National League Division One match against Warwickshire.

It was a game in which Warwickshire could be accused of throwing away, thanks to a clutch of misfields, misunderstandings and overthrows which ensured that Kent squeezed home with two balls to spare.

They did lose wickets, especially towards the end, but never quite enough to throw them off track. Mark Ealham was in murderous mood, punishing anything overpitched and everything short. In gathering gloom he hammered 32 off just 28 balls including a couple of sixes. However, he was unable to stay the course, falling leg before to become one of Tim Munton's two victims.

As is usual in these limited- overs contests, victory was never straightforward. The loss of captain Matthew Fleming, before he could inflict any serious damage on the Warwickshire attack, was a big blow.

The foundations of the Kent innings had been laid by opener Will House, who fell just short of a half-century, and a solid knock from Trevor Ward. The Australian Andrew Symonds had supplied the middle order fireworks with 35, at a run a ball.

The wides may have outnumbered the wickets, but Dean Headley still looked sharp and accurate enough to finished with 5 for 43. Perhaps missing out on the Test match still rankled; whatever, he generated a great deal of pace and consequent excitement among the sizeable crowd crammed into The Mote. There were only 3,300 paying spectators, but members and corporate guests swelled that by a further 1,500 at least.

Headley's feeding of the 5,000 came in two bursts. The first a telling spell of four for seven in 17 deliveries - which included three of the six wides he bowled in his nine overs. The acting Warwickshire captain, Nick Knight, was the first to go, caught by Nigel Llong at slip. In Headley's next over another left-hander, David Hemp unwisely shouldered arms and was bowled, and finally Trevor Penney and Keith Piper were also dismissed. They did manage to get some bat on ball, but only sufficient to deflect the missile on to their stumps.

Penney departed with the dubious distinction of becoming Headley's 100th victim in a competition which has changed format and sponsors four times in its colourful history.

By the time Headley returned to take his fifth wicket - Dougie Brown bowled while driving carelessly - Graeme Welch and opener Anurag Singh had taken the rest of the Kent attack apart. Welch did survive a sharp chance when he drove Headley low to Ward at cover. He was on five at the time and made Kent pay thereafter for that miss.

Singh and Welch added 157 for the fifth wicket before the flood of runs was stopped. Kent's captain, Matthew Fleming, accounting for both in successive overs at the death, but not before they had got themselves into the 70s and Warwickshire out of something of a pickle.