Ferley turns tide after day of attrition

Kent 602-6 dec Lancashire 130-2
Click to follow
The Independent Online

They call him "deadly" in the dressing-room, a reference to Derek Underwood and out of respect for his own slow-arm capability. He is Rob Ferley, 21, stocky, Norwich-born and a product of Durham University, and such is the state of English spin that he might just become a flower in the desert.

Just before tea, he pitched one up to Alec Swann that turned and nipped into his pads. Eleven overs later, as Mark Chilton and Mal Loye were starting to exercise their strokes, the latter went to turn Ferley against the spin, the ball flew off the pad to bat to short leg, running across.

Kent's hopes of a procession were ended drastically by Carl Hooper's arrival. David Fulton wisely postponed further experiments.

In fact only eight overs remained before the 21-year-old off-spinner James Tredwell appeared and although he made both batsman pause, he was unable to prevent Chilton from reaching a handsome 50 while Hooper was close behind.

The day before, David Lloyd, once for England and now of Sky, had recited "Albert and the Lion" in his best cut-glass Accrington on the beach. The Kent captain, David Fulton, would have liked a repetition in the middle in mid-afternoon when his batsmen were barracked roundly. Kent were doing no more than build on their huge overnight total, legitimate tactics, but a dry and sunburned crowd felt they were not being entertained as the records fell; at 490, Kent passed the previous highest visitors' score (Derbyshire, 1994); at 556, it became Kent's highest innings against Lancashire (Canterbury, 1994); and at the declaration they had set a new innings figure for Stanley Park.

Ealham, on 98, took the brunt of the booing and was goaded into a huge swing at a full toss from Lloyd to be caught at cow corner, an unlucky and unjust dismissal.

Meanwhile, the Lancashire chairman, Jack Simmons, tracked by the media all day after his condemnation of Andrew Flintoff's withdrawal by England, was unrepentant.

"I have always believed that you learn your trade as a cricketer in the middle, not in the nets or sitting on your backside," he said. "That's not pressure. I'm also passionate about Lancashire cricket and if there have to be withdrawals I simply want a level playing field. Why should we lose two players in this round?''

The question of central contracts will not arise again for about another 18 months, by which time the England and Wales Cricket Board may have devised a more equitable system. Today, given the chance, it can be assumed that Lancashire would vote against.