Cricket: Spectacular capitulation by Kent

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The Independent Online
Worcs 459-9 dec & 207-6 Kent 366 & 108-9 Worcs won by 192 runs

The party mood had already disappeared after a demoralising Sunday League defeat, but, for the benefit of those who missed that poor show, Kent's batsmen obliged with a re-run, which if anything was more spectacular.

They were without their injured England all-rounder, Mark Ealham, who will be out for at least the next two matches with a pulled rib muscle, as well as their stand-in captain, Steve Marsh.

Even so, to surrender their unbeaten Championship record in such a fashion was abysmal. A pre-lunch collapse when five wickets went down for 35 runs in 57 balls was followed by an early afternoon capitulation and all this when, with 84 overs remaining, they had been set what appeared to be a generous target of 301. They never got off the oche, let alone near the bull.

They scored 27 fewer runs yesterday than they had the day before, but Daryl Foster, the Kent coach, was stoical. "The batting was no better today," he admitted. "It was frenetic and lacking concentration. But it's not the end of the world. It's just a blip. We still have everything to play for."

In the mid-morning calm before Worcestershire stormed all over them, it was announced that the Kent players were going to be sponsored by up to 15 individuals for every run scored and wicket taken, the proceeds going towards Kent Kids Miles of Smiles appeal, for the building of a holiday home in Canterbury. With the way things turned out, there could be a long wait for those children.

Tom Moody, the Worcestershire captain, must have had a premonition when he called off Steven Rhodes and Stuart Lampitt after they had tormented the Kent attack for a further 40 minutes in the morning to take their seventh wicket partnership to 76.

At no point did the pair, who had piled on 159 together first time around, look in any trouble on a pitch that had grown more unpredictable over the weekend.

But the Kent bowlers, perhaps hampered with an old ball, were unable to exploit the occasional lifter and the odd shooter. Worcestershire's bowlers, notably the left-arm seamer Alamgir Sheriyar, had no problem, although if they had, you were left with the impression that one or two of the Kent batsmen would have helped them.

Sheriyar did not spark the fall though. That came because of temptation, David Fulton called for a run to Tim Curtis coming in from mid-off to short extra. Matthew Walker did not quite see things the same way and stood his ground, sending back his partner. Fulton turned frantically but Curtis's throw beat him comfortably.

Two balls later Walker pesented Fulton with an earlier than expected opportunity to discuss the run-out when Moody tempted him into chasing a wider ball which resulted in a catch behind. Then it was Sheriyar's turn.

In the space of 15 balls he excised the heart of the Kent innings, sending back Kent's second stand-in captain Carl Hooper, Nigel Llong and finally Trevor Ward, and all at a cost of just four runs. He finished with 4 for 58.

Matthew Fleming flowered briefly, but all the while he is in bloom he is not putting down any roots, and when Sheriyar got one that appeared to stop on him he was only able to chip it tamely to Curtis. Lampitt brought a merciful end to the proceedings with the last three wickets in a little more than two overs.