Cricket: Kent take Llong way

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The Independent Online
Middlesex. . . . . . .311

Kent . . . . . . . . .265 and 335-5

HUNDREDS by Mark Benson and Nigel Llong yesterday gave Kent the initiative in cold, blustery conditions which put fielding on a par with spectating when it came to enjoyment. The advantage the spectators had over the fielders was the sight of the left-hander Llong putting bat to ball with a sure, elegant touch rarely seen these days.

For Middlesex, each gloriously struck boundary was a reminder of a half-chance offered by Llong when he had scored 13, and the catch which John Emburey dropped at slip off Philip Tufnell at 29.

With the ball occasionally keeping low, batting was never entirely straightforward. But after some testing opening overs, by Angus Fraser and Neil Williams in particular, the Middlesex bowlers were too free with their favours.

Both century-makers treated Middlesex's England spinners with disrespect, adding 203 in 57 overs, and for a time Benson was punching Tufnell to the boundary so regularly that he looked like overhauling Llong in the race for three figures. Llong got there first, reaching his maiden Championship century off 158 balls with 14 fours and an exhilarating six off Emburey on to the middle balcony of the pavilion. Benson took 211 balls and hit 12 fours.

As Kent extended their lead to 289, Matthew Fleming showed little mercy to some weary bowling in a run-a-ball half-century.

Whatever Kent set them tomorrow, though, Middlesex will have to bat with more conviction than they bowled yesterday if they hope to keep alive the remotest chance of victory.