Cricket: Walsh makes Kent wobble

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The Independent Online
Gloucestershire 142 Kent 94-7

EIGHT CYLINDRICAL floodlight pylons now ring the Nevil Road ground. Gloucestershire say they are not permanent but their foundations look considerably more solid than the county's batting, dismissed for 142 in 47 overs.

But if snide remarks can be made about the batsmen of the third-placed team in the Championship, what is to be said about those of Kent, in fifth? They were 53 for 6 at tea and finished on 94-7.

The umpires (George Sharp and John Steele) have to report the pitch, after the fall of 15 wickets in the day, but were adamant it was not responsible. They agreed it had pace and bounce but thought that the surface did not seam or swing unduly.

One former player, before the start, believed it would play slowly and easily, so the first surprise was that Steve Marsh should prefer to field under grey skies that soon cleared. He was proved wise almost immediately by a fast and hostile opening spell from Martin McCague.

Gloucestershire tried to compensate against Julian Thompson and were rapidly confounded by two superb low slip catches by Carl Hooper that removed Tim Hancock in the second over and Dominic Hewson in the fourth. When Mark Alleyne, on eight, offered a similar chance, off McCague, at 23, Hooper was a little too quick, the ball failing to stick.

Rob Cunliffe and his captain were able to add 48 in 14 overs as Marsh maintained attacking fields, the stand being broken when Cunliffe, playing defensively off the back foot, unluckily played on. At 80 for 3, with lunch four overs away, Gloucestershire seemed to have saved the innings until McCague returned and with his first ball had Matt Windows (with Jon Lewis, capped at the interval) caught behind.

Given such an impetus, Kent rolled over the last five wickets for 50 more runs after lunch and soon after 3pm a good crowd were anticipating what Courtney Walsh would do to Kent. They were not disappointed: Kent wickets tumbled faster still and even when Carl Hooper threatened to lead a revival Alleyne pulled off a brilliant caught-and-bowled second ball.

Walsh was deep in the field when he was able to contribute, bowling in from fine leg to run out Matthew Fleming.

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