Cricket: Kent frustrated by depleted Surrey

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The Independent Online
Surrey 559 and 252-7dec Kent 410 and 380-8 Match drawn

Surrey's declaration which left Kent to score 402 to win in a minimum of 74 overs could hardly be called generous. Yet, when all the relevant factors had been taken into account, it did not seem quite so harsh a request and it produced a most entertaining and dramatic afternoon.

Two of Surrey's seam bowlers were unable to perform. Mark Butcher was in the pavilion with a pulled hamstring and on Sunday their acting captain, Adam Hollioake, suffered a hairline fracture of the left foot and could field but not bowl.

This meant that a great proportion of Surrey's overs would have to be bowled by their spinners and that the 74 over minimum would be exceeded although judicious time-wasting kept the excess to four overs. Then there was the small matter of Aravinda de Silva to be taken into account.

Kent began well before lunch but immediately afterwards David Fulton drove Martin Bicknell to cover, having removed his bottom hand from the bat. Twenty runs later, at 49, Trevor Ward pushed Richard Nowell to cover and De Silva's jaunty stride brought him out to join Nigel Llong.

In a handful of overs the game was transformed against the inexperienced left-arm spin of Nowell and the part-time leg breaks of Nadeem Shahid. De Silva showed the way and Llong was swift to follow his example. While De Silva's judgement was impeccable, his footwork exciting and his stroke play dazzling, Llong contributed handsomely in his angular left-handed way.

At tea, from 42 overs, Kent were 208 for 2 but soon afterwards De Silva was bowled round his legs trying to play Darren Bicknell's left-arm spin to leg. He faced 91 balls for his 89 and hit 17 fours. Llong went on to reach his 100 off 124 balls while Graham Cowdrey settled in most convincingly.

When the last 20 overs began Kent still needed 131. In the fourth, Llong was bowled, head in the air, driving at Darren Bicknell. Mark Ealham and Steve Marsh soon followed but Mark Benson, with an injured finger, helped Cowdrey who by this time was in thrilling form, hit 58 in eight overs.

Cowdrey was badly dropped at deep square leg when 72 and 48 runs were now needed from the last five overs. Benson was stumped slogging at Nowell when Cowdrey went with 13 balls left stumped far down the wicket to Darren Bicknell. Kent's ninth-wicket pair, surrounded by fielders, played out the day.

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