Cricket: Wells shows way with style

Kent 246-6; Hampshire 121 Kent win by 125 runs
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The Independent Online
Kent 246-6; Hampshire 121 Kent win by 125 runs

CRICKET'S fairground belonged to Kent yesterday. They hogged the swings, the roundabouts, the coconut shy and the duck shoot, leaving hapless Hampshire to the ups and downs - chiefly the latter - of the roller-coaster.

Hampshire's batting in particular was woeful. While the pitch proved less than helpful, it was the playable side of awkward all day, as Alan Wells demonstrated with his highest score in any competition for Kent as they trounced Hampshire with more than 12 overs to spare.

Wells, in his second season at Canterbury after 16 years at Sussex, mastered the conditions and the attack as he compiled an unbeaten 111 to earn his first Gold Award in the Benson & Hedges Cup. His 106-ball innings was an object lesson in batting (unfortunately Hampshire paid no heed to it) and kept last year's finalists on course to reach the knock-out stages of this year's competition.

They found Dean Headley and Ben Phillips too hot to handle when they set about chasing the target. The loss of four wickets in the space of four overs and then finding themselves reduced to 33 for 5 put victory out of reach. Only wicketkeeper Adrian Aymes got his head down but, without a cavalier at the other end to blast away, his was a hopeless task. After the two pacemen there was the miserly Carl Hooper (2 for 28 off 10 overs) and Matthew Fleming (2 for 19) to cope with.

Kevan James was just beginning to fire when he sliced an intended drive off Matthew Fleming into the deep where Phillips, running from deep third man held on to the catch close to deep backward point. It rounded off a fine day for the 23-year-old Phillips, who finished with 3 for 13, while Headley took 3 for 33. James had helped put on 40 with Aymes but Hampshire had clearly acknowledged the chase as Mission Impossible and duly pressed the self-destruct button. Aymes remained unbeaten on 46 at the sorry end.

It was all such a contrast with the Kent innings, which began slowly but ended in a rush as their captain, Steve Marsh, in particular, brought late impetus to the run-rate. In addition to Wells' magnificent contribution there was another half-century from Trevor Ward, his second in successive Cup innings. That was a more circumspect compilation, but the various component parts of Kent's effort added up to a whole lot more than Hampshire could muster.