Crawley shows a new bloom for a new summer

Kent 577-7 dec

v Hampshire 136-2
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The Independent Online

Hampshire will feel better than Lancashire. John Crawley's debut here was all elegance, power and patience. Poor David Byas, in Crawley's place at Old Trafford, made a contribution of precisely nought.

Hampshire will be pleased because Crawley did what he was hired to do. He stayed in, scored runs, and gave them a faint chance that they might approach the forbidding total of 427 they need just to save the follow-on.

Crawley came in when Derek Kenway was out to a fine slip catch by Andrew Symonds off the fiery bowling of Amjad Khan. The score was 35 and Kent knew that their best, perhaps their only hope of a win was to get in among Hampshire's top order and spread despondency before the hundred was up.

Khan, aged 21, born in Copenhagen, was playing his first Championship game because Kent are plagued by injuries to their first-string bowlers – Martin Saggers, Ben Trott and Mark Ealham. He was bowling fast too, making Will Kendall feel for the ball outside the off stump. Crawley was unworried, impeccable off his legs. His cover driving was out of the textbook and no fielder moved when he timed the square cut off the back foot. As he always has at his best, he had time to play the ball.

He was joined by Robin Smith when Kendall was caught at short point and Hampshire were 81. This was the first time that Creepy (Crawley) and the Judge (Smith) had batted together since the Old Traffford Test in 1995. Smith played circumspectly while Crawley moved smoothly towards his fifty, which came in 97 minutes with a square cut to the boundary for his seventh four. By this time Hampshire were, not out of the wood but they were not in the ordure.

Hampshire's bowlers had not provided much resistance as Kent increased their total from 340 for 2 to 577 for 7 shortly before tea. Although the wicket was fast and bouncy, Alan Mullally (0 for 120) gave off a faint air of martyrdom. Shaun Udal (1 for 178) and Alex Morris (0 for 112) were easy pickings. The only serious opposition came from a graduate of the National Academy's winter in Adelaide. This is Chris Tremlett and you could not miss him. He wears the same black and white boots that Shane Warne favours, but it is his height that marks him out. He is 6ft 7in, broad shouldered, strong looking, and 20 years of age.

He is the son and grandson of county cricketers (Tim of Hampshire and Maurice of Somerset), not especially fast, but he gets movement off the seam, and best of all, his height gives him unusual bounce. A seamer undid Ed Smith, who played to drive and lost his off stump. Bounce did for Matthew Walker, who edged to Adrian Aymes. His first spell was 7-2-9-2. When he bowled again before and after lunch he took the wickets of Andrew Symonds and Matthew Fleming for 23 runs.

The downside is that he sprays the ball wide down the leg, causing Aymes to make diving saves that might please David Seaman. Of his innings analysis of 31-5-129-4, wides contributed no less than 20 runs. There were eight of them (one of them was a boundary). For a bowler who does not bowl fast, accuracy is compulsory. But there is no doubt about his promise.

Aymes's exertions caused him to limp off with strained ligaments in his right knee. His place was taken by a South African named Nic Pothas whose Greek parentage makes him eligible for a Greek and therefore an EU passport. The ECB say theycan find no way of preventing EU passport holders from being employed by an EU employer like Hampshire. They ought to hire a French lawyer.