De Silva reaches a perfect pitch

Kent 534 and 339-9 dec Derbys 546-9 dec and 168-4 Match drawn
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The Independent Online
THERE have been few quiet days at the office recently for Kent's affable scorer Jack Foley. The previous championship match against Nottinghamshire produced a record aggregate for the county of 1,642 runs - the highest aggregate anywhere this season - which immediately came under threat in the game against Derbyshire which came to an end yesterday.

After each side had sailed past 500 in their first innings, Kent declared soon after lunch, leaving their visitors to score 328 at 5.65 per over.

They lost Wayne Dessaur for a duck, and then, critically, Chris Adams just before tea, and the match finished in high-scoring but low farce as wicketkeeper Steve Marsh became one of nine bowlers employed.

Batsmen failing to reach double figures - as poor Neil Taylor did in each Kent innings - must have been tempted to retire to the dressing room with a loaded revolver, while anyone bowling a maiden was entitled to a standing ovation.

All the more unexpected then, that Kent, 203 ahead overnight against an attack lacking Dominic Cork and Devon Malcolm should suddenly slow the pace. The 40 overs that Derbyshire rushed through before lunch brought only 95 runs, even with Aravinda de Silva at the crease for much of that period.

By the time he played on to Phillip DeFreitas (bowling offspin from half a dozen paces) for 116, the Sri Lankan's match aggregate of 371 had installed him in the county's annals as second only to Arthur Fagg's famous pair of double centuries at Colchester in 1938.

Add a 225 at Trent Bridge and three other centuries for a current average of 68.11 and Kent can feel pleased with Carl Hooper's locum, who must make way for the West Indian again next summer - all the more so since he was apparently no better than third or fourth choice for the post. De Silva, more than most, will look forward to Lord's and the Benson and Hedges Cup final next Saturday, when Kent must beat Lancashire to win their first trophy since he was a young boy in Colombo.

At the time of his dismissal yesterday, the lead was 259 with three wickets left, so Kent were grateful to Marsh for an unbeaten 57 after being dropped fourth ball.

That enabled Mark Benson to declare the moment that an irate voice near the betting tent bellowed, "You're killing the game, Kent.''

There was life left in it for both teams even if the odds were on a draw. Kent celebrated as Dessour gave Min Patel a low slip catch in Martin McCague's second over, only to suffer when Adams came to bat. He announced his intentions with a fierce square-cut off his first ball that struck Trevor Ward just below the knee and then pulled and hooked Alan Igglesden for a four and six off successive deliveries.

Kent must have feared a batting feat to match De Silva's - Adams had made a handsome 216 in the first innings. Having driven Igglesden out of the attack, however, he fell leg before to the first ball bowled by the replacement, Tim Wren. While Adams was batting the match remained alive, but his departure leg before to Wren's inswinger signalled a drawing of the curtains.

The home crowd must hope it is not curtains for Mote Park after 136 years. The local council recently refused to renew funding for the Festival Week and have turned down Kent's application for a pounds 7,000 grant, which seems a small price to pay for preserving county cricket at this delightful tree-fringed amphitheatre.

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