Cricket: Headley revisits hat-trick heaven

Kent 445 & 211 Hampshire 358
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The Independent Online
In spite of a third hat-trick of the season for Dean Headley, a performance that equalled the world record, Kent did not always behave like title challengers yesterday. On a pitch that began to show wear by mid- afternoon, however, they are still in mathematical pursuit of Leicestershire for the County Championship.

Headley's success ended a frustrating period for the home side. When James Bovill was out first ball, leg-before, Headley secured a vital fourth bowling point and, as Simon Renshaw followed a ball later, the bowler matched Charles Parker's 1924 record - a Championship hat-trick of hat- tricks. J S Rao, playing for Services in the Indian 1963-4 season, also achieved the feat, and needed only two first-class games to do it.

Kent's first task on a bright morning had been to knock away Hampshire's bottom five short of the follow-on figure, 296, but effective resistance meant that the visitors reached 338 before the day's first wicket fell.

Mark Ealham and Martin McCague coaxed some spiteful bounce on the early- morning track, to John Stephenson's particular discomfort. After playing rising balls with his helmet, knuckles and wrist, he retired to the dressing room, but by then the follow-on was all but saved. His ally was wicketkeeper Adrian Aymes and, though runs were only grudgingly conceded, the visitors were eating into Kent's target-setting time.

Stephenson's replacement was Dimitri Mascarenhas. Kent's brisk bowlers caused him to hop around his crease, suggesting that the number eight shirt is somewhat flattering to him. When Stephenson returned he was still in the wars, nutting four leg byes with his helmet, before a slashed catch to third man initiated Headley's claim to fame. Kent's lead had been pared down to 87, but this should still prove crucial.

When Kent batted Trevor Ward kept his foot on the throttle all too briefly, and the hosts stumbled to 125-7. The lively, supple Mascarenhas, slanting the ball to the slips, was particularly effective, adding to his four first-innings wickets. But when Min Patel and Steve Marsh restored order with a stand of 50, at the same time as Derbyshire's title hopes were ending, Kent were back on course.