Round-up: Alan Richardson rolls back years as Kent create horrid history

 

Bowler of the day: At 38, the Worcestershire seamer Alan Richardson would admit that his best days are behind him.

Yet he remains capable of exploiting an early-season pitch to deadly effect, as Kent found to their cost as they were skittled for 63 – their lowest total in 31 years – on the way to a two-day, 10-wicket defeat at Canterbury. In the 158th first-class match of a career that began in 1995, Richardson grabbed 7 for 22, his best figures since he took 8 for 46 for one of his three previous counties, Warwickshire, against Sussex in 2002, while his match analysis of 12 for 63 was the best of his career. He now has 518 first-class wickets at an average of 26.99, and will begin his next match on a hat-trick, having dismissed Mark Davies and Charlie Shreck with consecutive deliveries to complete the rout. Worcestershire had lost their last five first-innings wickets for 23 before Kent surrendered all theirs inside 29 overs for their lowest for a completed innings total in a first-class match since they were bowled out for 57 by Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in 1982. The result leaves them bottom of the Second Division.

Benkenstein blow for Durham

Extras: Durham's title aspirations were already regarded by some as carrying less credibility than in previous years but the odds against them sustaining a good start to this campaign will lengthen after news that Dale Benkenstein, their former captain, faces a shoulder operation that will rule him out until the closing stages of the season at the earliest. He suffered a torn rotator cuff diving in the field during Durham's five-wicket win over Surrey last week. The South African-born Benkenstein is the county's leading run-scorer with more than 9,000 first-class runs for Durham, including 21 centuries. He has scored 1,000 runs in five of the last eight seasons, leading the county to the Championship for the first time in their history in 2008.

Duckett is starting to turn heads

Batsman of the day: Northamptonshire believe they have a future star on their books in 18-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman Ben Duckett, who marked his first-class debut with an unbeaten 53 as the Second Division leaders drew with Leicestershire at Wantage Road. Duckett, a left-hander who has played for England Under-19s, made his county debut against Gloucestershire in last season's Twenty20 Cup, when he emerged unscathed from an encounter with Muttiah Muralitharan. He enhanced his reputation further with a half-century against Yorkshire in a pre-season friendly in Barbados, and Northants' head coach David Ripley said: "Ben has all the ingredients to become a top-class wicketkeeper-batsman."

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When I was supporting Ray La Montagne I was six months pregnant. He had been touring for a year and he was exhausted and full of the cold. I was feeling motherly, so I would leave presents for him and his band: Tunnock's Tea Cakes, cold remedies and proper tea. Ray seemed painfully shy. He hardly spoke, hardly looked at you in the face. I felt like a dick speaking to him, but said "hi" every day. </p>
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He was being courted by the same record company who had signed me and subsequently let me go, and I wanted him to know that there were people around who didn't want anything from him. At the Shepherds Bush Empire in London, on the last night of the tour, Ray stopped in his set to thank me for doing the support. He said I was a really good songwriter and people should buy my stuff. I was taken aback and felt emotionally overwhelmed. Later that year, just before I had my boy Louis, I was l asleep in bed with Radio 4 on when Louis moved around in my belly and woke me up. Ray was doing a session on the World Service. </p>
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