Cricket: Smith emerges to make Kent suffer

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The Independent Online
Warwickshire 417 and 288-6 dec

Kent 359 and 270

Warwickshire win by 76 runs

FAME has cast aside Neil Smith since his last-over six which inspired Warwickshire to beat Middlesex in the NatWest Trophy final five years ago, until yesterday, that is, when he emerged from the shadows with a career-best 7 for 133.

Smith's timely stroke at Lord's, together with a career- best 161 in the previous championship match against Yorkshire sustained him in the game. Now at 26, Smith has much to anticipate once more, as indeed have Warwickshire, still unbeaten in all competitions this summer.

The son of M J K, of England fame, he has borne the inevitable comparisons. Kent, another county of family dynasties, were the ones suffering this time as they sought 347 on a turning pitch from what would have been 93 overs.

Five of the top seven batsmen contributed heavily to their own dismissal with strokes usually reserved for nightmares. Matthew Fleming's 61 from 80 balls and a hard-hit half-century from Mark Ealham in a sixth- wicket partnership of 76 fortified Kent but indiscretions cost their wickets.

Fleming chipped Smith, an off spinner, to midwicket and Ealham drove an innocuous full toss to cover in a bizarre and brisk ending to a match in which Warwickshire had 17 different players on the field.

Ultimately, five Kent wickets tumbled for 23 runs, including the final one of Julian Thompson, who drove Richard Davis, a former Kent left- arm spinner, to mid-on, off the first ball of the final 20 overs.

Warwickshire's absentees were Brian Lara, throughout the day with a stomach upset, Dominic Ostler, who was having a wisdom tooth removed, and Gladstone Small (hamstring trouble). Wasim Khan, one of the six different substitute fielders, held two catches as Kent's failure followed Warwickshire's initial declaration charge with 88 runs added in 55 minutes.

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