Walker repays Kent's faith

Worcs 401 and 316-2 dec Kent 289 and 429-5 Kent win by 5 wkts

A brilliant, unbeaten century by Matthew Walker and an equally fabulous one by Michael Carberry helped Kent to pull off a stunning and improbable victory which took them to the top of the County Championship.

A brilliant, unbeaten century by Matthew Walker and an equally fabulous one by Michael Carberry helped Kent to pull off a stunning and improbable victory which took them to the top of the County Championship.

Their winning total beat their previous highest fourth-innings score of 416 for 6 made against Surrey at Blackheath in 1934, and almost defied belief because they had been outplayed for three-quarters of the match.

Kent had begun the day two wickets down and still 394 adrift of the target of 429. The nightwatchman, Martin Saggers, was not expected to hang around and the sensible money was on a home defeat, probably by tea.

But it was records, not wickets that tumbled. Firstly Saggers chose the day to score only the second half-century of his first-class career, which he then turned into a personal best, then Walker turned in a top-drawer innings to illustrate just how gifted he is.

Walker should have been sued for breach of his rich promise long ago. In the 10 years he has been on Kent's books he has signally underperformed as the figures show - a shade over 5,000 runs at a paltry 30.77, among which were, up to this match, just 10 hundreds.

That, though, could well be changing. He was one of a handful of heroes in Kent's woeful first innings, and when he emerged midway through yesterday's morning session with Kent three wickets down and still an imposing 323 runs away from saving the game, he simply got his head down and dug in again.

He and Saggers, who had just shared in a 72-run stand for the third wicket with Robert Key, further loosened Worcestershire's grip on the game with a 65-run stand.

Carberry arrived just after lunch and there followed 210 minutes of a classy double act, which realised 236 runs (a Kent fifth-wicket record against Worcestershire). Neither man showed any urgency, yet by tea Walker had his century, Carberry, who had scored his maiden Championship hundred just six days ago in the win over Gloucestershire, was on the brink of 50, and Kent were just 140 runs from the unthinkable.

Not even the new ball could help Worcestershire. Carberry came into his own, clubbing promising paceman Nadeem Malik for six, hitting his second in the next over off Vikram Solanki and revealing a range of superb shots.

When Carberry fell having hit an additional 13 boundaries in his 157-ball hundred, just 23 were needed. Walker cruised past 150 for the third time in his career, having hit 19 fours and a six in his disciplined four-and-three-quarter-hour sojourn, and Geraint Jones smacked a quickfire 20 to seal Worcestershire's fate.

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