Symonds gives Kent a lift with assured century

Kent 254 Northamptonshire 115 for 1
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The Independent Online

Andrew Symonds may well have been striding out for England at Lord's today had he not surrendered qualification for the country of his birth seven and a half years ago.

As it is, a fledgling Test career with Australia, on top of nearly 100 one-day internationals, will not have left him feeling too bad with his lot.

Nor will the commanding century he took off the Northamptonshire attack yesterday to lift Kent to the relative respectability of 254 all out.

For a side fresh from a nine-wicket mauling of the New Zealanders and two early Championship victories, the visitors batted fitfully on winning the toss.

Perhaps there was suspicion, too, of the Wantage Road wicket, although two perplexing run-outs - one down to Symonds - underlined the view that they, not a pitch occasionally keeping low, were largely responsible for their slide from 120 for 2.

Some poor shots and poor decisions tipped the scales back in favour of Northamptonshire, who then proceeded steadily to 115 for 1 at the close.

On the back of an unbroken second-wicket stand of 108 between Tim Roberts and Martin Van Jaarsfeld, they have power to add this morning and beyond, especially if they can find the fluency Symonds demonstrated in his 31st first-class hundred.

Following the early loss of the captain, David Fulton, and the in-form Robert Key, the all-rounder outscored Ed Smith almost two to one in a third-wicket stand of 95 in 23 overs.

Then he mystifyingly called for a single off Graeme Swann to mid-off, whence Ben Phillips' fine throw beat the England discard's full-length dive.

Symonds, having gone to his 50 off 51 balls, owed his side a century after that and duly reached the landmark in a further 71 deliveries, accelerating towards it with a straight four and six off successive balls from Jason Brown.

Not for the first time at Northampton, the spinners bore much of the workload and extracted most of what help there was, Swann's three wickets including the scalp of Symonds - bowled off stump for 107 when trying to force to leg.

He and Brown twirled away for 48.3 of the 72.3 overs while the willing South African, Johann Louw, bent his back to good effect to make four incisions into the top or middle order.

Kent's spirits were further undermined when Martin Saggers and the reserve wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien were stranded at the same end, O'Brien deciding he was senior batsman and standing his ground. His cameo was to bring him five fours and a six in an attractive 32 not out and he was the catcher when Saggers removed Mark Powell cheaply in reply.

But Roberts went to his 50 with his ninth four and Northamptonshire ended well in control.