Cricket: Martin mops up

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Kent 193; Lancashire 11-0

KENT escaped the worst of the weather early on but Lancashire's New Zealand pace bowler, Danny Morrison, still put a dampener on their build-up to next weekend's Benson and Hedges Cup final, snuffing out any Kent hopes of a high score before Lord's.

If it had not been for Graham Cowdrey's sturdy 77 the Kent ship would have foundered long before lunch. As it was the mess of their innings was mopped up shortly after the interval by Morrison and Peter Martin.

Morrison finished with 6 for 48, his best return in the Championship, while Martin dismissed the in-form Cowdrey and the flamboyant Matthew Fleming in his collection of scalps.

Cowdrey's performance, a responsible three and a half-hour innings in which he hit 11 boundaries, was welcome news for Kent captain Mark Benson, who is eager to put some silverware in the trophy cupboard this season.

Benson views their first opportunity of doing so - that difficult looking final against Hampshire - without fear. 'There is confidence now,' he said.

'I don't think we have been professional enough in our approach over the last six or seven years. Nor have we had the right overseas player. Now we practise very hard at our game.

'There was a time when we would take the field without expecting to win. Now we go out thinking we can beat anybody. But the County Championship, for me, is the No 1 thing to win.'

The Championship could be beyond Kent, however. They began this match in seventh place but yesterday the batting, with the exception of Cowdrey and the wicketkeeper, Steve Marsh, looked frail.

Marsh made 42 in 43 balls as he helped put on 60 for the sixth wicket with Cowdrey, but he fell before lunch top edging a hook to Stephen Titchard. Cowdrey was last man out attempting a half- hearted pull and presenting the bowler Martin with a simple catch. It was his fourth Championship half-century of the summer during which time he has also made three centuries. His wicket left Martin with final figures of 4 for 67.

The Lancashire innings was 23- minutes old when a thunderstorm drove everyone off for the day.