Cricket: McCague back on warpath

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The Independent Online
Kent 502-4 dec

Leicestershire 181 and 114-2

TEN DAYS after ripping out Hampshire for 70 with a career- best return of 8 for 26, Martin McCague was on the warpath again here yesterday, when he lifted seven Leicestershire scalps for 52. This fast and hostile assault from the 6ft 5in Irish-born Australian saw Kent enforcing the follow-on with a huge lead of 321.

On a wicket which Kent managed to smear 500 runs for four down, the big fellow - McCague - charged in and got the ball to bounce. There were grunts and eyeball confrontations, the hallmarks of a wound-up fast bowler, but the sledging and short-pitched deliveries to tail-enders need curbing.

Still, McCague is making advances of the kind that interest Test selectors, and in that respect he could be torn between two camps. Let us just say that the accent is Australian - and the mannerisms, too. Subtlety is not a strong point, but then you do not have to be subtle to knock batsmen over, and here Leicestershire were soon reeling.

The prospect of the Foxes being put out for under 200 on this wicket, mind, seemed remote as Kent continued to splatter the ball around when they resumed in the morning.

Matthew Fleming, a flashing blade, completed a 38-ball half- century that included six fours and a six, and Carl Hooper also hit 50, while Graham Cowdrey weighed in with a couple of superb sixes in making 37 off 20 balls.

In all, Kent added 88 off 10 overs. Come the 11th over of the Leicestershire innings, the locals were swallowing hard on a scoreboard reading 44 for 3. McCague first took out Nigel Briers, thanks to a fine one-handed catch by Trevor Ward at forward short-leg. Tim Boon went next, caught behind for what became a respectable-looking 25, and Phil Robinson, the former Yorkshire batsman making his Championship debut for Leicestershire, gloved one to Ward for a duck.

McCague had taken 3 for 11 from 13 balls. When Laurie Potter also collected a duck, he sat down to lunch with figures of 8-1-32-4. At the end, he was rewarded with the second-best return of a career that, at 23, has a lot of mileage left on the clock.

'That's life,' Briers said after his first dismissal of the day, and one imagined something riper following the second - this time courtesy of Alan Igglesden. Still 207 adrift, the prospects are grim, even allowing for Boon's unbeaten half-century and a chance of thundery showers.