CRICKET: Something rotten in the state of Denmark

Kent Board XI 227-8 Denmark 169 Kent Board XI win by 58 runs
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The Independent Online
IT TURNED out to be an expensive lesson. The five-day trip that Denmark made for the NatWest Trophy first round match cost their cricket association around pounds 8,500 (although a substantial portion of that is refundable) and all they had to show for it was a thrashing at the hands of the Kent Cricket Board XI at The Mote.

In Denmark's case there was more spillage than pillage. The looting and plundering all came from Kent. Ole Mortensen, the Danes' national director of cricket, admitted he was disappointed with the display. Unfortunately his bowlers were more akin to pastry throwers and were duly punished, while the batsmen were guilty of rashness and indisicipline; whereas the impressive Board XI hit the perfect line and length instantly and the captain, Andy Tutt, in particular, was a model of economy and accuracy, as figures of 3 for 16 bear testimony, after the batsmen had ridden their luck before riding roughshod over inexperienced opponents.

It was Denmark's debut in the revamped Trophy, which has been reduced to 50 overs a side and for the first two rounds features the Minor Counties and County Board XIs, teams which bristle (if Kent are anything to go by) with seasoned club cricketers, many of whom have played for the second XIs of first-class counties.

In Kent's case nine had seconds experience, three having gone on to play at least once for the first XI. They were too good (and too old and wise) for Mortensen's mob, whose average age was 24.

Three simple catches were spilled and the Danes paid dearly for two of them. Matt Featherstone, a PE teacher at Blackheath Prep School, was missed a mid-on by Peter Thomsen when he had scored 41. They did not get a second chance at him and he finished unbeaten on a fine 104, reaching three figures in style with a savage pull for six over square leg, having also hit eight fours, a performance which earned him the man of the match award.

He had put on 105 for the second wicket with Grant Sheen - dropped when he had scored one - who reached a good-looking 45. There were just a couple of plus points in the battered Danish attack, the opening bowler Amjad Khan and captain Morten Hedegaard.

Khan was especially lively, generating a fair amount of pace on a pitch that got lower and slower. Born in Copenhagen of Pakistani stock, he has had trials with Kent and Sussex this season and looks a certainty to appear on the county circuit before too long.

Hedergaard picked up three wickets, one more than Khan, but was unable to pick up his team when the going got tough. Perhaps it was the cold; the biting north-easter resulted in the umpires having to use just one set of heavy bails to avoid numerous interruptions.

Whatever the reason for their abject batting display the Danes looked outclassed. Mortensen, however, was adamant that the 2003 World Cup in South Africa remained a realistic target, provided they qualify for it in the ICC Trophy in Canada in 2001. There is more work to be done if they are to conquer the cricket world.

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