Honesty is best for Powell

Warwickshire 252 & 45-2 - Kent 569
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The Independent Online

Appearances can be deceptive. When Niall O'Brien stood his ground in the face of a harmonised Warwickshire appeal here yesterday, staring incredulously at the raised finger of the umpire John Hampshire, it was natural to anticipate a penalty for dissent against the Kent batsman.

Appearances can be deceptive. When Niall O'Brien stood his ground in the face of a harmonised Warwickshire appeal here yesterday, staring incredulously at the raised finger of the umpire John Hampshire, it was natural to anticipate a penalty for dissent against the Kent batsman.

Hampshire then astonished the Birmingham crowd by changing his mind, allowing O'Brien, who had still to get off the mark, to continue. Had the stifling heat addled the official's judgement? Explanation was necessary. When it came, it brought a refreshing tale of honesty - shock, horror - from a professional sportsman.

It transpired that the catch Hampshire was convinced O'Brien had given to slip off Alex Loudon's off-spin had hit the ground before Michael Powell scooped it into his hands. Warwickshire could have accepted the gift of a wicket. But Powell owned up, Hampshire accepted the admission and O'Brien stayed. If only footballers diving to win penalties could embrace a similar sense of fair play.

O'Brien went on to compile an unbeaten 21, although it hardly affected the balance of a day dominated by Kent, who will have no one to blame but themselves - for batting on too long - if they fail today to wrap up a victory that will put them on top of the First Division.

At the heart of Kent's supremacy was a partnership of 307 for the fourth wicket between Darren Stevens and Matthew Walker, a record for any wicket in the 111-year history of games between these counties. Having started on Thursday evening, their alliance had lasted more than five hours before Walker carved Neil Carter to point. Walker's 140 contained 14 fours and two sixes. Stevens reached a career-best 163 with 22 fours and one six before popping up a bat-pad catch off Loudon that wicketkeeper Tony Frost took practically in front of the stumps.

After that, one puzzled as to why Kent then used up 33 overs to add 97 to their total to lead by 317, although a late double breakthrough when Andrew Hall bowled Powell and then Ian Bell - the latter for a fifth-ball duck - leaves Warwickshire facing a struggle to survive at 272 behind.

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