Kent 142 and 318 Yorkshire 285 and 176-6 Yorkshire won by 4 wkts

Yorkshire hail Fellows' fling

When Yorkshire last won the Championship, websites where were spiders lived. Now the competition is being sponsored by one of them. The change is merely indicative of how long the wait has been.

When Yorkshire last won the Championship, websites where were spiders lived. Now the competition is being sponsored by one of them. The change is merely indicative of how long the wait has been.

It is 33 years to be exact, and for much of the match yesterday Yorkshire could not entirely dispel the feeling that the figure will reach at least 34. Yet they came through in the end, bustling their way to a four-wicket victory with only two balls remaining.

Time and again in the past few summers ­ following a pair of grim decades ­ they have promised to take back the pennant to the place where it has resided 29 times, only to stumble when it mattered. Maybe this was the sort of last-minute hurdle ­ making a straightforward victory complicated ­ they needed to stoke up reserves of self-belief.

Yorkshire were left with 176 to win from 38 overs after a staunch Kent rearguard and a bowling performance which lacked urgency combined to take the match long past its likely finishing time. In mitigation, they were without Matthew Hoggard's bowling for most of the match, but at the start of the day Kent were only 43 ahead with five wickets left. Hoggard will have a back scan tomorrow to determine his injury, but he looks doubtful for the First Test against Pakistan at Lord's on 17 May.

To say that Yorkshire finally paced the pursuit just right is to invest their batting display with a subtlety it did not contain. But they kept going and they all contributed. It will have helped them, too, that their main contributor was not their prolific Australian, Darren Lehmann, who has shored up their batting for most of the past two seasons. True, his rapid 41 was important, but the game was finished with no little calmness by Gary Fellows, who is by no means a regular in the side and still has a top score for the county of 46.

He drove the fourth ball of the final over through mid-off for four. The boundary did not count because the batsmen had already completed the single necessary for Yorkshire to collect 17 points.

Kent deserved to feel disappointed. Although their poor first-innings batting always seemed likely to provoke the eventual outcome, they compensated substantially in the second. Robert Key departed early enough, adding only one of the three runs he needed to complete his second consecutive century. Key had begun his innings in splendid form but by the time he reached his nineties had batted himself out of it. Still, he stayed for nine overs on 96, which shows commendable restraint that was missing a year ago.

It was Ed Smith who then kept Kent in the match. With immense fortitude and the occasional beautiful shot off his legs or through the covers, he batted in all for a few minutes short of five hours. There were 13 fours in the seventh hundred of his career and his first at Canterbury. Kent have now scored four Championship centuries this summer, as many as they managed throughout 2000.

Smith and Min Patel used up most of the precious time, putting on 91 in 38 overs. Yorkshire were becoming frustrated when their captain, David Byas, called on Michael Lumb in his first Championship match. Lumb took a wicket with his second ball, Patel fetching a ball from outside off on to his stumps.

If this was a ball too late to gain him a place in posterity, it did for Yorkshire in this match. Lumb then took his second first-class wicket and Smith was unbeaten on 103 when the innings ended.

Yorkshire began the pursuit at a rapid pace (as if they had a choice). But Michael Vaughan was well held by Mark Ealham at third man, who ran in and took the carve-cum- drive off his bootlaces.

The quick exit of Anthony McGrath brought in Lehmann, Yorkshire's best hope of victory. He improvised wonderfully in making 41 from 41 balls and Yorkshire had a glimpse of the finishing line. Simon Widdup's departure to Patel was not as damaging as Lehmann's dismissal nine runs later. He walked across his crease to make room and found himself yorked. An improvisation too many.

Fellows and Byas prodded and poked away, doing just enough, never letting the run rate grow too momentous. But Byas was leg before hoicking across the line and then Lumb, son of Richard, was run out, hesitating fractionally while pondering a second.

But Fellows and Richard Blakey merely acquired what they had to. Yorkshire constantly kept the required rate at just the right side of a run a ball and with five needed from the final over there was little breath-holding round the ground. Yorkshire have begun well in the CricInfo Championship.

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