Somerset survive despite Fulton feats

Kent 451-7dec & 205-3dec Somerset 336 & 113-8 Match drawn
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The Independent Online

Kent are driving their supporters into bad habits ­ the chief one being nail-biting. Having beaten Leicestershire off the last ball of their previous Championship match thanks to the batsmen scoring a huge 401 runs, yesterday it was the turn of the bowlers to see what they could do.

And they got close. Far closer than Somerset, who had been given what turned out to be 48 overs in which to score the 321 needed for victory, would have liked. Their eighth wicket fell with 15 minutes of the last hour left, and Kent fielders crowded around the bat like wolves circling prey.

Fortunately for Somerset, Richard Johnson and Steffan Jones were equal to the job and hung on, but it was desperately tense, with almost every push and prod being suffixed by hoarse cries of "Catch it!" from Kent fielders.

The man who did the damage with the ball was Min Patel. The left-arm spinner claimed four second-innings wickets, which gave him the best match return in his career of 12 for 144.

It has to be said that the Kent cause received significant help from David Fulton. This summer, and in particular in this match, the Kent opener has been all hands and feats. He was the first to reach 1,000 first-class runs, achieved on American Independence Day last month, while his second-innings century made him the 43rd player to score a double hundred and a hundred in the same match and the ninth to remain not out in both innings.

He has now scored seven hundreds this summer ­ six of them in the Championship ­ as many as he had amassed since his maiden first-class century in 1994.

Not content with that, Fulton then picked up four second-innings catches at silly point to bring his total in the match to an impressive seven. Somerset must have felt like a prisoner doing porridge in this match ­ they have spent almost 10 hours condemned to the field, while Fulton has scored a total of 312 runs to take his tally so far to 1,465 at an average of 73.25.

There had been the suggestion of a chance first time around, but this second hundred was flawless, and far more brutal. He scored it at just about a run a ball, the 14 boundaries which he struck helped hugely, and all three of the partnerships in which he was involved topped 50.

The last one with Andrew Symonds was the most enter-taining, the Australian one-day international all-rounder clattering 59 off just 41 balls. With that achieved, the Kent captain, Matthew Fleming, called his men in, leaving Somerset with their improbable target.

It was a pity that Kent had not been able to polish off the Somerset first innings quite so efficiently. It took them 51 precious minutes of the morning session before they finally snared the last man, Matthew Bulbeck, but by then the youngster had helped Keith Dutch (75 not out) to put on 48 for the last wicket and ensure that Somerset were not forced to follow on. Then it was over to Fulton and Patel for a thrilling finish.