Cricket / Sunday League: Hooper the hero with bat and ball

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The Independent Online
Kent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .309-7

Essex . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .152

Kent win by 157 runs

SOME LIKE it hot and, on yesterday's evidence here, Carl Hooper in particular. While a crowd in excess of 7,000 threatened to run watering holes at The Mote dry, the West Indian donned his Sunday best to come up smiling with a cool century and five wickets. The pace-setting Kent, meanwhile, could hardly have had an easier afternoon.

Thanks to Hooper's rousing 103, they charged to 300 for the second time in the League this summer. Then Essex wilted away with nearly a dozen overs remaining after Hooper had taken 5 for 41 with his off-breaks. As a contest, few come more one-sided than this.

It was not quite a one-man show, though. While Matthew Fleming - like Hooper, a century maker in the current Championship match here - departed for a duck, Trevor Ward led off in his usual hard-hitting fashion to make 86 and, between them, Ward and Hooper added a blistering 126 in 21 overs for the second wicket.

These two have accumulated over 500 runs each in the competition this season, Hooper averaging over 74 and Ward just 10 fewer. As for Kent, with such forthright batting to bank on, they have won six times in nine outings and only Sussex, who mustered 310 in their opener against Surrey, have gone better over the 50 overs.

When Ward went 14 short of a third Sunday century, Hooper was just coming to his fifty, and while Nigel Llong and Mark Benson went cheaply, he reached three figures off 109 balls. Ward, who struck seven fours and two sixes, was all crash-bang-wallop but a good many of Hooper's 11 boundaries were down to impeccable timing.

All this with a bat first taken to the middle on Saturday. Two centuries in two days was one way of breaking it in, and there was more heartbreak for Essex after Graham Cowdrey, whose cricket has been confined to the second XI, came in at No 7 to score 45 off 32 balls to keep the momentum going.

Apart from Paul Prichard, who made 67, Essex were never in the hunt. It was Hooper who took out the opener and his other victims, all clean bowled, were Nadeem Shahid, Darren Robinson, Mike Garnham, and Don Topley. The man of the match award was no contest.