Cricket: Victory for Kent as Essex collapse

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The Independent Online
Kent moved into second place behind Warwickshire in the AXA League table yesterday, securing their ninth win of the season in comprehensive fashion after fellow title-chasers Essex collapsed at Canterbury.

Kent won by 107 runs with more than 12 overs to spare as Essex, set 224 to win, pressed the self-destruct button. The visitors rushed to 24 for 0 before Stuart Law was out for seven.

Then Darren Robinson and Ronnie Irani both went with the score at 33 - the latter run out without facing a ball - and Robert Rollins, Danny Law and Paul Grayson all fell in quick succession as Essex dived to 60 for 6 and then 81 for 7 before the half-way mark in their innings. They were all out for 106 in the 27th over - their lowest score in the competition this season.

Earlier, the home side slipped from 44 for 0 to 52 for 4 in the space of only four overs, with Trevor Ward out for 22 but having reached 4,000 runs in Sunday League cricket.

Kent recovered thanks to a stand of 89 between Mark Ealham and Graham Cowdrey. Ealham hit 50 off 67 balls, before he was fourth out at 141, but big-hitting Cowdrey maintained the momentum, adding 48 in seven overs with Matthew Fleming and then sharing a stand of 32 with Paul Strang in only three overs. Cowdrey eventually finished with 80 from 79 balls, including nine fours and a six.

Dominic Williamson claimed a Sunday best 5 for 32 as Leicestershire kept their title hopes alive with a 44-run win over Sussex at Eastbourne. The bottom of the table hosts tumbled to their fifth defeat in six games being dismissed for 140 chasing a target of 185.

Williamson, one of six uncapped players in the Leicestershire line-up, grabbed four of the last five wickets as Sussex's frail batting again let them down.

Mark Butcher, dropped by England and struggling for runs in the County Championship, went some way towards rediscovering his form with an innings of 81 to earn Surrey a seven-wicket victory over Durham.

Surrey, the League's outgoing champions, restricted Durham to 189 for 9 and then, with Butcher opening the innings, strolled home with nine balls to spare.

Butcher batted for 116 minutes, striking seven fours from 110 balls before holing out to deep midwicket at around the time England were surrendering the Ashes. He left Surrey needing 42 from eight overs and Darren Bicknell steered them home, finishing unbeaten with 49.