Key faces tour lock-out as debutant shines

Notts 486-8 dec Kent 237-5
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The Independent Online

If Nottinghamshire go on to beat Kent today - a less likely outcome after an unbroken century stand for the sixth wicket between the Championship debutant Neil Dexter and the wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien - then they will be presented with the trophy at the conclusion of this match by their former chief executive David Collier, who took over as the chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board in January.

As for Kent, still 249 runs adrift of Nottinghamshire, they were left looking a little further ahead. With the England tour party for Pakistan to be announced on Monday, this game was Robert Key's last chance to put his case. But his thunder was stolen by Dexter, 21 last week, who frustrated Nottinghamshire in their quest to enforce the follow-on while scoring a maiden, unbeaten half-century.

Key struggled badly with his groin injury. He clearly had problems on the front foot and appeared to eschew any shot that involved him transferring his weight through his left leg. He still powered his way to within sight of a half-century before he mis-hooked a short ball from his former Kent colleague Mark Ealham and was held by Greg Smith.

Key reckoned later that he would be fit for the final match against Sussex at Hove next week. Whether he makes it on to the tour is another matter. The impression is that he is likely to miss out but might go with the Academy party to the Caribbean as a batting reserve for the senior tour.

The Nottinghamshire off-spinner Graeme Swann may have impressed the selectors with three wickets in 14 balls, and the wicketkeeper Chris Read did his chances no harm with a substantial first-innings score and a sharp catch.

After Key's exit came Swann's flurry, which presented Dexter with his opportunity. Dexter is not related to England's "Lord Ted": he was born and raised in South Africa but he holds an English passport through a grandfather and just needs to live here for a further three years before Graveney and co will be able to consider him.

He can certainly wield a bat, as he showed in a nerveless display - a glimpse of an exciting future.