Cricket: Hooper hopes dashed

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The Independent Online
Worcestershire 360 and 333-8 Kent 344 and 270-9 Match drawn

IT IS difficult to work out which was the more disappointing. The fact that the crowd was robbed of another Carl Hooper hundred in the match, or that the probability of a Kent victory disappeared with the great man into the Canterbury pavilion. True there was a tense finish, and Kent did force a draw, but it clearly was not the ideal scenario. The fact that he was unable to reach his 1,000 runs for the season before lunch was as good an indicator of the way things would go as anything.

The West Indies vice-captain did at least reach four figures for the seventh time in an English season shortly after lunch when he pushed a delivery in Stuart Lampitt's first over for a single - a moment which did not go unnoticed or unappreciated by the knowledgeable Kent crowd. But after that there was not much for the home fans to appreciate until late in the day.

Worcestershire, having added 33 to their overnight 300, declared at the fall of their eighth wicket leaving Kent 350 for victory off 87 overs. It was always going to be difficult, especially on a pitch that appeared to be doing something. No one managed to look quite as comfortable as Hooper did (except maybe Ben Phillips and Min Patel later on). But even Hooper is human, because he took one liberty too many with Tom Moody, his two-step down the track was spotted in time for the bowler to drop the ball shorter.

Hooper stretched and was well taken low to his left at point by David Leatherdale after 48 balls and five delicious boundaries.

Without the cool presence of Hooper to hammer the runs the only option was the draw. Even that appeared to be in some doubt, particularly after Matthew Fleming had departed for a breezy 33. But Phillips and his tail- mates all did their bit for the cause. Phillips, who has a first-class hundred to his name, showed impeccable timing, by choosing the occasion to score the second half-century of his career. Patel saw out the final nine overs and two balls.