Cricket: McCague turns the screw on Somerset

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The Independent Online
Kent 616-7 and 92-2 dec Somerset 389-9 dec and 257 Kent won by 62 runs

Martin McCague at his malevolent best is one of the meanest sights in cricket, as Somerset discovered yesterday. A devastating spell of 4 for 14 in 33 balls sent Kent into second place in the championship and may well have gone some way to solving the county's captaincy conundrum.

Their third stand-in captain of the season is Trevor Ward, who has now led them to victory in each of his last two championship games in charge. While there are calls for Matthew Fleming to be appointed, Ward, as senior pro, is demonstrating his leadership capabilities where it matters, out in the field.

With McCague charging in at one end and Dean Headley knocking them over at the other, Ward looks to be on to a winner. The finish was set up by Ward's willingness to set Somerset a tempting target of 320 in 88 overs, but the match swung this way and that throughout the final afternoon.

Mark Lathwell has had a patchy season before yesterday's effort and fully deserved his hundred. Unfortunately, having sustained the momentum right up to tea, he made a late decision to leave alone a ball from Headley which clipped the top corner of his off stump.

Shane Lee's departure a ball later raised hopes of a remarkable third hat-trick for Headley, but it was not to be. Having been interrupted by the interval, Simon Ecclestone saw off the hat-trick delivery and hit an invigorating half-century.

While Ecclestone was there with valuable, if cautious, support from Keith Parsons there was every chance of a Somerset victory. Then the menacing McCague re-entered the equation and the balance swung finally and conclusively to Kent.

Somerset's declaration 78 runs shy of avoiding the follow-on helped to maintain interest. Setting a target involved Kent being fed runs by some severely below-par bowling. Peter Bowler, living up to his name, injected humour into a thankless task with a series of impressions of different bowlers, a routine which finished with him bowling slow left-arm and picking up the wicket of Ward.

The most eloquent shot of the Kent second innings had been the ball before Ward's departure when the batsman thumped a full toss into a rubbish bin in the Frank Woolley stand for six.