Cricket: Igglesden makes fresh start

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Kent 306 Northamptonshire 41-0

It has been a long 22 months for Alan Igglesden but yesterday, on the ground where he made his first-class debut 12 seasons ago almost to the day, the Kent seamer made his long awaited comeback and it was not half bad.

The wickets might not have come for the 32-year-old who has been plagued by injuries, the most recent a back problem, but four of his half dozen overs were maidens and he conceded just four runs in a lively opening spell.

It was little short of a miracle that Igglesden was able to bowl a ball let alone that 16 overs were possible on The Mote. Heavy rain fell for much of the day, but sterling work by the groundstaff convinced umpires Dickie Bird and Vanburn Holder that the pitch was fit and a sparse crowd was treated to a full hour's play from 5.30pm.

Bird, known by some as the Rain Man and someone who is dogged by bad weather, was determined to rid himself of the reputation. The mere fact that they got any play at all meant that he has yet to sit out a whole day in any match in which he has stood involving first-class sides.

"The only rain I've seen this year was in a Second XI match at Horsham in June," the 64-year-old said. "Otherwise the only time I have had to come off was for bad light during the England A v The Rest match at Edgbaston in April. So you tell them, I am not the Rain Man."

Kent have sold their allocation of tickets for the Benson and Hedges Cup final against Surrey at Lord's on Saturday week. Kent were inundated with applications days after beating Northamptonshire in the semi-final and more than 5,300 tickets were despatched by the county in nine days. Assistant secretary Bernard Thompson said: "We have had to disappoint about 150 members by sending back their applications, and at least 250 other applications had to be turned away."