County round-up: Pink ball makes first-class debut


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The Independent Online

Kent and Glamorgan have not added much colour to this season's County Championship in terms of performance. But two teams languishing near the foot of the Second Division may be able to say, some day, that they played in one of the most important matches for many a year.

Canterbury's St Lawrence Ground has seen many things down the ages but, now, a first-class match, partly played under floodlights and with a pink ball being used, can be added to the list.

The game was chosen by the England and Wales Cricket Board specifically because it had nothing riding on it in terms of promotion or relegation. But when play started after lunch there was a novelty value, if little else, for home supporters to enjoy as Kent slipped to 70 for 4 before recovering ahead of the evening session.

With talk of some Test matches being played under lights, using a pink ball, the ECB wants to gather its own evidence and will seek feedback from all those involved in this week's four-day (and four-night) experiment.

Back in the world of red balls and "normal" hours, Yorkshire' s relegation from the First Division was confirmed. Only straw-clutchers in the land of the White Rose had not abandoned hope. But even they had to let go yesterday afternoon when Worcestershire's West Indian recruit Kemar Roach dismissed the Durham batsman Will Smith at the Riverside to relegate Yorkshire.

Having run out of matches, they were powerless to influence events. And with Worcestershire needing only a point to guarantee finishing above them (a point which was gained through taking Durham's third wicket) it was always likely to be when, rather than if, the executioner came calling.

The Durham v Worcestershire match had significance at either end of the table. But the hosts' slim chance of winning the title looked slimmer still after they were dismissed for 264, whereas the visitors will now fancy their prospects of banishing all thoughts of relegation, regardless of what rivals Hampshire manage at the Rose Bowl.

As for the Second Division promotion race, a London double seems increasingly likely. Leaders Middlesex made decent progress at Grace Road, dismissing Leicestershire for 319 despite first centuries of the season from Greg Smith and Ned Eckersley as for Surrey, they have now nipped past Northamptonshire into second, with Tom Maynard's third hundred of the campaign (123 before being caught out) guiding them to maximum batting points against Derbyshire at The Oval.