Cricket: Hooper and Ward hurry Kent to record: NATWEST TROPHY: Counties not bowled over by prospect of bowl-outs - West Indian pace man shows his class - Yorkshire have to fight - Essex flounder

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The Independent Online
COUNTY professionals from Netherfield to Cardiff will be nervously searching the skies today as they ponder the prospect of losing a bowl-out to weekend cricketers, writes Glenn Moore.

It happened to Derbyshire three years ago when they could only hit the stumps once in 10 attempts against Hertfordshire and the Test and County Cricket Board are expecting a number of requests to switch grounds today in an attempt to stage at least the minimum 10-over thrash.

Kent, where the bowl-out is even less popular than the Channel Tunnel after their Benson and Hedges disaster at Edgbaston, wasted no time ensuring they would not suffer again. Left with only the NatWest Trophy to play for in a disappointing season they began it in style.

Playing Berkshire at Finchampstead they racked up 384 for 6, their highest total in the competition and the fifth best by anyone. With Carl Hooper making a county record 136 not out and Trevor Ward 120 the last 20 overs went for 210 runs. In reply Berkshire quickly slipped behind the rate and, equally important, past the 20-over mark which ensures a bowl-out will not be required, before subsiding to a 143-run defeat.

There were three other centuries but none from Brian Lara who was dismissed for a tame 23 by 25- year-old Bedfordshire part-timer Matt White. White, an architectural technician said after rearranging Lara's stumps: 'That is a moment I will never forget - it was absolutely brilliant, Lara just played down the wrong line.'

After his poor Championship match against Kent last week Lara is clearly having a terrible trot. He is without a century in four innings and it looks as if the secret to getting him out has been discovered - make him wait to bat. He failed against Kent after Warwickshire openers Dominic Ostler and Roger Twose had compiled a huge opening partnership and the same thing happened at Edgbaston yesterday, the pair putting on 156.

Twose went on to make 110 as Warwickshire scored 361 for 8. The Brumbrella, absent before Kent's Benson and Hedges visit, was more visible last night.

Plenty of runs too at Aston Rowant, Marcus Trescothick, Somerset's promising England under-19 batsman, making 116 off 124 balls and Richard Harden 105 off 93 as Oxfordshire suffered.

Robin Smith shook off his Test worries to steer Hampshire to a nine-wicket victory over Cambridgeshire - who made 107 - with an unbeaten 59. Cardigan Connor took 4 for 11 from 11.1 overs.

Middlesex, Surrey and Northants all look well placed to join them in the second round, if the weather allows them.

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