Cricket: Kendall displays his class

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The Independent Online
THERE MUST have been times last season when Will Kendall wondered if he would have a job at Hampshire in 1999. He was given a handful of damp one-dayers early in the year, but did nothing to avoid being relegated to second XI duty.

It was only in the last month of last season that Jason Laney's poor form gave Kendall a chance to save his contract. Although he failed to reach three figures on his return, a landmark he has not managed since 1996, he did enough to finish third in the county's Championship averages.

Alas, a century also eluded him yesterday. He grafted watchfully for four hours, repairing a Hampshire innings that could have shrunk to nothing in the early moisture, before punting a leading edge back to Martin McCague. But after their early problems, Hampshire would have settled for two batting points and an innings that kept Kent in the field for most of what was a breezy day.

Kent's new skipper, Matthew Fleming, won the toss and chose to bowl on clammy turf. Horrid weather earlier in the week had already reduced this to a three-day match when Dean Headley took the new ball, and batting yesterday morning was awkward on a seaming pitch. For a brief while Robin Smith threatened to tame the conditions, but too soon he was trapped in his crease, undone by a ball from Andrew Symonds that kept low.

While Kendall took a cautious line, Derek Kenway repaired the Hampshire innings in more muscular fashion, unfurling eight boundaries in his morning cameo. As the supporting cast came and went, however, only the compact Kendall stood for long in Kent's path.

McCague, perhaps unsure of the ground beneath his sizeable feet early in the day, bowled an anodyne morning spell but made amends later and, with a little luck on his side, helped to ensure that Hampshire could never establish a commanding total. Headley, meanwhile, has already settled into a thoroughbred groove this year.

Although Nixon McLean was surplus to the West Indies' needs in the one- day series against Australia, facing him on an April evening in Southampton is still a testing prospect. He soon yorked Robert Key and before the day was out, Alex Morris blasted his way through Trevor Ward and the night- watchman Min Patel to regain home initiative.

n Rain forced the third washout in as many days in the County Championship match between Middlesex and Lancashire at Lord's yesterday. Off the pitch, the England World Cup hopeful Ian Austin has suffered what was described as "a minor tweak" as he warmed up, forcing him out of the Lancashire side.