Patel keeps rolling on as Clarke leads the Surrey offensive

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The Independent Online

The heavy roller is ponderous at the best of times, but yesterday it contrived to hold up play for seven minutes between the end of the Surrey first innings and the start of Kent's second.

This was because the groundstaff, apparently employed by the local council, failed to spot the signal indicating that Kent captain David Fulton wanted the heavy roller, and were alerted to the fact that the machine was needed only a couple of minutes before the resumption.

It was apposite because everything seems to have been in slow motion in this match thus far, the pitch, the scoring and naturally it was slow bowling that ruled the day.

Kent's left-arm spinner Min Patel seems to have been around forever, yet despite the streaks of grey in his hair there is still a youthful bounce to his approach even at 34. He wheeled away for much of the day, chiefly from the Railway End at this charming ground, and did a great deal to contain the Surrey big shots and his reward was his best bowling return for four seasons with six for 124.

He claimed some major scalps yesterday, beginning with the opener Scott Newman who was stumped after unwisely giving the Bombay-born Patel the charge. Mark Ramprakash soon followed drawn into a forward defensive that saw him edge to gulley.

Patel, who has had his share of career threatening injuries, including both knees and, most recently, his back in 2003. But he has bounced back every time and earlier this season he passed the 500-wicket mark for Kent. Yesterday he bowled unchanged for the entire morning, slipped back into the attack after lunch and only had a break when he changed ends in mid-afternoon.

He was the one who finally ended Rikki Clarke's innings - the sixth hundred of his career - when the Surrey all-rounder rashly tried to hit the spinner over the long-on boundary. It fell short, and into the hands of Simon Cook.

Clarke had done enough damage though. He had shared in a stand of 99 with Jon Batty for the fourth wicket and then one of 107 with Alistair Brown, the only other Surrey batsman to pass 50.

When the roller had completed its task the players took the field, with Kent losing captain David Fulton as they set about wiping out the 62-run deficit.