THE speeding Dean Headley transfixed Durham batsmen like so many rabbits in his headlights before running over them or, in this case, through them. His half-dozen victims represented his best haul of the season by three wickets and the 20th time in his first-class career that he has claimed five or more in an innings. And he looked very quick and extremely good.
He was a whisker away from a seventh wicket, which would have given him 10 in the match, but Headley found one tail- ender who was not prepared to play the role of bunny to the England fast bowler.
Stephen Harmison turned Headley's 19th and final over into something approaching farce, although it was a tragedy for the bowler's figures. The Durham man was credited with four boundaries in the over, only one of which went in front of square, but somehow, while Harmison managed to get an edge to the other deliveries, no Kent fielder was able to get a hand to the ball and Headley's once proud return was left in relative tatters at six for 71. By the time Harmison fell, caught at long off by Matthew Walker, he had improved Durham's reply by 43. His 30 came off 20 balls and included five fours, as well as a six off the man who finally got him out, Min Patel.
Durham did make a fight of it, well Jon Lewis did. The former Essex batsman displayed a great deal of courage on a pitch of variable bounce. Twice he was hit on the arm-guard by Headley and Martin McCague and once, more painfully, on the hand by the former. Lewis stuck it out until half an hour before lunch when he was stumped by Kent captain Steve Marsh.
The wicketkeeper took a Patel delivery that turned a good two feet and had whipped off the bails before the batsman could regain his ground.
He had made a good looking 72 off 103 balls. By then John Morris had limped into the fray, still suffering from the calf strain he aggravated in the first innings. On his day and in form Morris is capable of rendering a runner redundant, but it wasn't to be. He only found the boundary four times. He too was struck on the hand, but Durham's acting captain, in the absence of David Boon who hopes to return for tomorrow's AXA League match, played through his pain until becoming one of Headley's victims shortly after lunch.
Headley in fact had two deadly spells. His first one accounted for Nicky Phillips, Nick Speak and Paul Collingwood in the space of 13 deliveries, not long after Durham had resumed their futile quest for the 266 runs needed to make Kent bat again. And then, following Morris's departure, Headley had John Wood caught in the gully for the third of McCague's catches. Enter Harmison for 25 minutes of merry mayhem.Reuse content