Cricket: Kent struggle as Cork finds a perfect mix

Kent 165; Derbyshire 159-5
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The Independent Online
Kent 165; Derbyshire 159-5

BATTING MAY have been problematical at times here yesterday, but it was never as difficult as Kent made it appear. The way they dissipated a good start suggested a side lacking form and confidence with Derbyshire putting up a disciplined bowling performance.

Steve Marsh, the Kent captain, obviously had no qualms about batting first on a pitch that had been under wraps the previous day. It was firm and dry, though, and there was no hint of the pitfalls ahead when David Fulton and Ed Smith put on a free-wheeling 70 together.

At that stage much of the bowling was either too short or too full. Both openers made the most of it but the game changed when Dominic Cork, switching his bowlers around, hit upon the right combination in Phil DeFreitas and the left-arm Kevin Dean, each benefiting from the cross breeze.

Dean, aged 22, was playing league cricket until three years ago but, with his ability to bring the ball back into the right-hander, has probably been the revelation of Derbyshire's season. Moreover, his medium pace was perfectly suited to this pitch and in 12 deliveries he took three wickets for five runs.

In one over he persuaded Fulton and Trevor Ward to edge to slip. Then Smith was palpably lbw playing across a full-length inswinger, all of which triggered off a series of misadventures by the Kent middle-order. Nigel Llong, making his first appearance of the season, was also leg-before, somewhat surprisingly padding up to an inswinger. The bowler was DeFreitas, who then opened up Mark Ealham to have him caught at slip. When Carl Hooper was caught down the leg side as he tried to whip Dean through midwicket, it was a bonus for Derbyshire but it meant no way back for Kent.

It got worse for Kent as Julian Thompson had to go off for stitches in his chin and a probable visit to the dentist after ducking into a ball from Cork, who bowled well but emerged wicketless; you might say that he did not quite enjoy the luck he experienced at Trent Bridge.

Thompson, though probably shaken, was able to return and bowl later. By then, although the sun had appeared and the ball probably moved around less, both Michael Slater and Michael May needed their share of good fortune in an opening partnership of 79.

Ealham, with his changes of pace, eventually got them both but Kim Barnett and Robin Western dug in as the total passed three figures. However, Dean Headley dismissed the former Derbyshire captain as well as Matthew Cassar and Vince Clark in a testing post-tea spell that left Derbyshire six runs behind with five wickets in hand.