Prolific Jones is keeping up appearances

Lancashire 347 Kent 267 and 94-2
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The Independent Online

Much like Lancashire the day before, Kent were floundering until one batsman took considered attack to the bowlers and made full use of a fine pitch. At 26, Geraint Jones may be a relative latecomer to county cricket, but the Papua New Guinea-born wicketkeeper averages over 40 in his first full season and, although he did not match the power of the Lancastrian centurion Andy Flintoff, he did effect a comparable rescue from 91 for 5.

Supported ably in a 128-run partnership by a more restrained Mark Ealham, he gave Kent a chance of parity that was spurned by the lower order. He also provided the club's committee - who are convening in the next couple of days to discuss signing a second overseas player alongside the returning Andy Symonds - substantial food for thought.

"We haven't started well, so that pushes us towards having one," admitted David Fulton, Kent's captain. "But if we do, whether we get another class batsman, keep [Greg] Blewett or get a bowler is undecided," he continued.

On today's performance, with Stuart Law and Mal Loye extending Lancashire's lead without alarm, a good case could be made for signing a bowler. But the return of Amjad Khan in two weeks and Min Patel in July should force the committee towards a batsman, especially with Rob Key absent with England for the one-day series and possibly more Tests.

Jones's excellent form affects the decision, but not as much as the conundrum surrounding the captain himself. Still with a blind spot in the centre of his right eye after a bowling-machine ball passed between the peak and grille of his helmet and hit him during the pre-season, he is tentatively trying to re-establish his confidence.

"I missed a straight one here," he said, "but I've done that before when rusty or in bad nick. And in the C&G Trophy on Wednesday I got one that it wouldn't have mattered if I had three eyes." As it was, he would not have played if the England management had not imposed an enforced rest on Key before next week's second Test.

"I disagree with them taking him out of the game, because he needs a long bat in the middle," said Fulton, "but for myself I need to find out what change there is. I am not at slip because we have a good cordon, and fielding there in the second eleven I caught three and dropped two, which is not a good enough ratio; and batting-wise I need a few innings. I think I will get better and better." Another overseas batsman could be just the cover needed, although last season's stand-in, Steve Waugh, is unlikely.

"We always keep in touch with former players, but the miles in the car affected Steve last season and he had a purpose to playing, to prepare himself for the winter, which he doesn't now," said Fulton.

All will become clearer in the next few days, for Kent and with any luck their captain.

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