Cricket: Kent get into swing: Derek Hodgson reports from Headingley

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The Independent Online
Yorkshire 209; Kent 39-0

MARTIN McCAGUE and Alan Igglesden bolstered their claims for places in the England team against Australia, if not at Trent Bridge then on this ground in the fourth Test. On the quickest pitch seen so far this season, they destroyed Yorkshire's first innings with bowling that would still have been incisive against more confident teams. McCague's sharp bounce and Igglesden's late swing and seam meant the batsmen's reactions were tested in all directions, sometimes very quickly.

That said, Yorkshire were disappointing, with Richie Richardson, at last on a surface that should have suited him, making 23. He twice cracked Igglesden beautifully for four and was then defeated by a ball that seamed late; he has now scored 236 in seven first-class innings - an average of 33. He is very popular in the dressing-room but the hard fact is that Yorkshire have so far got less value from Yorkshire Television's pounds 33,000 than they did with Sachin Tendulkar.

One by one each batsman played himself in and then, Richardson apart, edged behind or to slip. Martyn Moxon, playing with a back strain, was dropped off McCague at third slip on nought.

Kent opted for an extra spinner, Yorkshire for an extra seamer so it will be interesting to see how the surface develops. Yorkshire were 93 for 6 at one point with Igglesden, once he had switched to bowling downhill, amply confirming his position as the county's leading wicket-taker. Once Peter Hartley, with one century behind him this season, had appeared, Yorkshire perked up and the tail, with no inhibitions, stacked up some runs.

Hartley's judicious cuts and pulls brought him five fours and 54 runs off 102 balls, Richard Stemp proving a willing accomplice as Kent fidgeted for a new ball. The Hartley-Darren Gough partnership looked like instigating a real revival when Gough was unluckily run out after Nigel Llong's backward flip, but their 58 for the eighth wicket did cheer a near 3,000 crowd.

Kent then had Trevor Ward missed at slip, off Gough, when on two, and Mark Benson dropped at slip, when nought, off Paul Jarvis.

If Keith Boyce, the groundsman, produces a pitch like this for the Test match then there could be exciting times ahead: Australia without Craig McDermott and England fielding Igglesden and the wild colonial boy, McCague. It would not be the first time that the Irish have saved England's bacon.