Cricket: Kent discover their limits

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The Independent Online
Warwickshire . .224

Kent . . . . . .161

Warwickshire win by 63 runs

THE Bears' big teeth, as represented by Warwickshire's four Test bowlers, were far too sharp and long for Kent yesterday. Not quite lambs for the slaughter, although by tea Kent were 59 for 5 in reply to Warwickshire's 224.

Kent have done extremely well this summer, reaching the Benson and Hedges final and yesterday's NatWest quarter-final, successes based on excellent teamwork that masked limited capabilities. In both knock-out competitions they were able to extricate themselves by one extraordinary individual performance, often from Matthew Fleming.

This year Kent strode straight from the pages of Boys' Own, heroes who in each chapter escaped the brink of the abyss with one bound. There was no such leap to freedom here on a hot, cloudy, almost windless day. Of the first seven batsmen, only Fleming and Mark Benson reached double figures as Allan Donald and Gladstone Small, then Tim Munton and Dermot Reeve, exploited a pitch that demonstrated a little more variable bounce than is usually expected in these contests.

Trevor Ward was removed, fencing at a head-high bouncer of fearsome speed and Neil Taylor had his off-stump flattened. Carl Hooper was leg before to a ball that kept low, Graham Cowdrey chased an outswinger that bounced high, and Fleming was run out by Trevor Penney from square, hurtling after a second run.

All Benson could manage, amid this debacle, was roughly a run an over from the other end, eighth out at 115 for a brave but, in the circumstances, futile 57. At tea 166 was needed off 35 overs, which was still feasible, but it was hard to see where the propulsion would come from; once Steve Marsh had gone, swinging, the remaining cricket was academic. Kent's last pair were allowed to bat for eight overs.

Benson had accepted the risk of having to face Donald in possibly fading light by letting Warwickshire set the target. Alan Igglesden was not at his best but Martin McCague, his face smeared with what looked like yellow warpaint, was always a difficult proposition, giving Benson and Kent an ominous indication of what was to come.

Roger Twose, whose job was to get on with it, departed, hooking, in the sixth over, while Andy Lloyd fell to the niggling Mark Ealham in the 14th. Andy Moles, eventually found a partner in Dominic Ostler, flighty and forward but reliable, to help raise the score to a respectable 117 before playing on to a yorker.

Moles, as much a manifestation of Midlands art as the CBSO or Birmingham Rep, abandoned respectability after 138 balls, and got himself run out by a smart pick-up and throw by Cowdrey. With his departure at 150 for 4, the innings became something of a scramble, almost everyone contributing pennies rather than pounds.

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