Dawes' late double strike thwarts Kent's confident advance

Kent 291-4 v Middlesex

Joe Dawes only looks as big as a house. In reality he is far larger, and well capable of stopping a bus or a tank should he choose. Yesterday he chose to stop Kent in their tracks.

The former Melbourne policeman, a locum overseas player for his fellow Queenslander Ashley Noffke (who arrives later this week), struck his most telling blows at the wrong end of a rain-hit day. But when he did it was pretty impressive. Ed Smith and Greg Blewett were motoring, having added 138 for Kent's third wicket.

The South Australian Blewett, himself a locum until his fellow Australian Andrew Symonds returns to Canterbury, had reached a solid 60 when he spliced an attempted pull to the square leg boundary, where a sprinting Sven Koenig executed a perfect dive to pull off a superb catch. That was the first ball of the 6ft 2in 16st Titan's 17th over.

Three balls later Smith drove Dawes to bring up his century – the 12th of his career and his ninth for the county. But two balls after that he top edged to the waiting Ben Hutton. That brought Dawes' tally of wickets to three and underlined how canny a signing he has been.

Once Noffke is ready for action, probably next week, Dawes will slip down to play club cricket for Bromley, with the possibility of a return in June depending on Abdul Razzaq's availability.

It was not too bad a day for Kent, though. The openers Michael Carberry and Robert Key laid down a sound platform of 66 before the latter departed. leg before to Dawes. He was followed by Carberry shortly after lunch, when the left-hander was guilty of a careless drive at Chad Keegan and was caught behind, having made his second half-century in five Championship innings.

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