Cricket: McCague on mark

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The Independent Online
Kent 282-7; Middlesex 116

Kent win by 166 runs

THE likelihood of England adopting the principle, if you can't beat them, pick them, increased yesterday as Martin McCague, Irish-born, Australian-bred but English qualified, proved his fire and fitness in destroying Middlesex's NatWest Trophy hopes.

Despite having to temper his ferocity to the constraints of one-day cricket, McCague took 5 for 26 with a hostile display of fast, accurate bowling. On an easy-paced wicket, Middlesex were beaten by the sort of margin normally reserved for English Test defeats, 166 runs with 24 overs to spare.

Having announced himself 'fitter than I've felt for weeks', McCague had been pacing at his mark well before the Middlesex openers had emerged from the pavilion and he wasted little time in sending Matthew Keech back there.

Mark Ramprakash soon followed to a slower ball and though Desmond Haynes and John Carr revived the innings, it fell moribund in 13 balls around tea. Haynes was bowled cutting at Carl Hooper, Mike Gatting slashed Dean Headley to the keeper and Carr fended a brutish ball from McCague, his first of a new spell, to Hooper at slip.

Gatting's misery was compounded by earlier battering his already sore knee when he crashed into an advertising board while fielding. The injury may keep him out of tomorrow's Championship match with Surrey, which will not help his chances of playing in the third Test.

Headley, an acrimonious signing from Middlesex this winter, and McCague wrapped up the innings, the last eight wickets falling for 36. McCague's new- ball partner, Alan Igglesden, failed to strike despite an impressive opening spell.

Losing both bowlers to England would be a blow to Kent, whose powerful all-round side are in rich form after a slow start. Only rain and Derbyshire's win here on Sunday interrupts a run of six victories and their batting is long and strong, as was shown by a trio of well-paced half-centuries from Mark Benson, Hooper and Neil Taylor.