McGrath ends Fulton's flourish as Kent's resistance falters

<preform>Middlesex 351 and 370-8 dec<br>Kent 192 and 410<br>Middlesex win by 119 runs</preform>
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The Independent Online

There is little doubt after his experience of the Walker Ground that Glenn McGrath will never become a member of the Flat Earth Society, at least not if his comment to one Middlesex fan yesterday is to be believed.

There is little doubt after his experience of the Walker Ground that Glenn McGrath will never become a member of the Flat Earth Society, at least not if his comment to one Middlesex fan yesterday is to be believed.

It was mid-afternoon when McGrath, during a snatched conversation with the fan, pronounced: "This is the flattest wicket in the world." And when asked if he was going to take a Kent second-innings wicket, replied: "No, I'm saving them all up for England." But the Australian paceman relented, shortly afterwards claiming his only wicket of the innings and his fifth of the match when David Fulton was brilliantly caught in the gully by Ben Hutton.

It was one of the most important wickets of the day, because Fulton had reached a hundred for the fourth time this season and had been the rock on which Kent's chase of an improbable total of 530 had been based.

In his six-hour stay, Fulton faced 305 balls and shared in a stand of 162 with Michael Bevan for the third wicket and one of 54 with Matthew Walker for the fourth.

Bevan's had been the wicket Middlesex most wanted; they still remember the unbeaten 173 he scored on this ground to help Sussex to an unlikely victory four years ago.

He had reached his half-century late on the previous day and was made to work hard for every run yesterday. He had crawled to 66 when, after just over an hour's play, he presented Hutton with a bat-pad effort which was, if anything, better than the one which dismissed Fulton.

Although Kent regrouped after the loss of Bevan, Middlesex never gave up, and Paul Weekes' off-spin accounted for Walker not long after lunch.

Then came Fulton's departure, a critical moment for Kent's hopes. The victory target was improbable but a draw was still realistic, and Middlesex then encountered an unexpected obstacle barring their path to victory in the shape of Niall O'Brien, the Irish wicket-keeper.

He and Alex Loudon put on 72 stubborn runs for the sixth wicket. When Loudon was out to the second ball after tea, lbw to the occasional bowling of Owais Shah, a result was likely. Victory became even more concrete when Min Patel, attempting to cut Jamie Dalrymple's off-break, was caught behind by Ben Scott.

Dalrymple struck again a few overs later, Ian Butler presenting Scott with a second catch, this time down the leg side. Middlesex pressed ever harder, acting captain Hutton switching his bowlers around in search of a win. With a bare dozen overs left, Dalrymple changed ends and trapped Robbie Joseph lbw to set up a tense finish. Last man Ben Trott fell leg before to Weekes a couple of overs later as Middlesex took a 21-point victory.

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