Cricket: Taylor cashes in

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Kent 414-3 v Leicestershire

IF IT came to two-up, the game of chance that goes down big Down Under, Australians would be well advised to steer clear of Nigel Briers. Yesterday, the Leicestershire captain won the toss for the 14th time in 15 Championship outings, which is some going. Unfortunately, the subsequent gamble of putting Kent in did not exactly pay off.

In the long term, mind, Leicestershire still stand to collect a fistful of readies. Their appearance in next month's NatWest final, for example, guarantees them a minimum of pounds 13,500 and if they can maintain second place in the county table, they would walk away with another pounds 23,000. Kent, for their part, are seeking to move up from fourth place and into the five-figure bracket.

Here they were looking well off, too, though any thoughts of over- confidence were best hidden. Last season, they lost twice in fairly quick succession to Leicestershire, who as a consequence saved themselves the embarrassment of finishing bottom.

For the present, Kent are sitting comfortably in the driving seat after setting off in overcast conditions. While there was a fair amount of playing and missing, Winston Benjamin and Alan Mullally having no luck at all, Trevor Ward rattled the score along with almost indecent haste.

He had struck seven fours and scored 41 before Briers turned to Gordon Parsons, who obtained a caught behind decision with his second delivery. Then the sun came out and Leicestershire had to wait just over four hours before taking a second wicket.

In that time, Mark Benson and Neil Taylor added 235 in 70 overs. It was Taylor, dropped on 29, who accounted for much of the leather chasing by scoring his first century of the season. Taylor's 144 had been made off 237 balls, and included 23 boundaries, when he eventually played on to Benjamin.

By contrast, Benson's third three-figure contribution of the campaign was painstaking stuff, a six-hour-plus stint for 139. Never mind two-up, who would have bet on only three down come the close?