Cricket: Symonds is golden as Kent dominate

Kent 384-4 v Essex
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The Independent Online
ANDREW SYMONDS is on a year's contract with Kent, and next week joins the Australian squad for a knockabout tournament in Sri Lanka. He will then return to county duties, and the way he batted yesterday suggested that he would rather like to be invited back to Canterbury next year as well. He is a batsman who seethes with power even when performing in correct four-day mode. No half-volley went unpunished, no long hop unpulled, but he was content to wait for them as he moved towards his century, with Alan Ealham in support.

Matthew Fleming won a vital toss on a flat, easy wicket, and just enough breeze ruffled the air to prohibit outrageous swing. But there were youngsters in a rejigged Essex side keen to impress. Ricky Anderson, a former Middlesex Colt who bowls on the brisk side of medium; the tall, quick David Thompson was on the books at Surrey and Lancashire; and the left-arm spinner Tim Phillips, in his first Championship game, was willing to give the ball an unflustered loop.

The Kent opener Robert Key has been told to curb his impetuousness, to build an innings through the day. So curbed was he at Worcester last month that he made a 64-minute duck, and yesterday he watched while Ed Smith scored Kent's first 25 runs. But it was Key who survived until, with a century for the taking, his bat followed a wide delivery from Thompson.

Matthew Walker attempted a cut to give Phillips his first Championship wicket, setting the stage for Symonds and Ealham. Just before tea, Symonds, on 30, was reprieved when Stuart Law at slip juggled a flash off Ashley Cowan, but the last session belonged to him.