Deflation hits Kent

Kent 154 and 117 Gloucestershire 241 and 33-0 Gloucestershire won by 10 wkts
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The Independent Online
IF I hadn't written about surrealism once already this season, it would have deserved a treatise after the crazy goings-on here yesterday. Instead, the lesson has to be economics.

Kent came here on Thursday with the chance of winning the County Championship and its pounds 65,000 prize. They began play yesterday in second place, no longer able to win the title but needing to beat Gloucestershire to stay in contention for pounds 30,000.

Losing eight wickets for 90 runs yesterday morning could leave them as low as sixth, with just pounds 8,000. That is deflation on a grand scale.

Kent batted ineptly and all that can be said in mitigation is that Courtney Walsh bowled extremely well in his first eight overs. In 13 balls, costing two runs, he dismissed Matthew Walker, Trevor Ward and Carl Hooper to leave Kent's innings in total disarray.

Ward and Hooper both fell to torpedo deliveries, Hooper second ball, and if there were some eccentricities in the pitch, Walsh exploited them mercilessly. He kept the ball well up to the bat but the threat of something shorter was always there, keeping the Kent batsmen pinned to the crease. When, with the last ball before lunch, Walsh knocked back Min Patel's leg stump, he took his season's victims to 85, currently the best tally in the country. Gloucestershire's supporters will hope that the doubts over the West Indies fast bowler's future with the county are soon resolved.

While the first three wickets fell, Martin McCague played his nightwatchman's role to order and others would have benefited from his straightforward approach. Nigel Llong and Steve Marsh both lost their off-stump, and Mark Ealham was undone by a change of pace, but from a team so high in the table Kent's batting was pathetic.

Graham Cowdrey, coming in at the fall of the sixth wicket, played the ball about handsomely to finish top-scorer in a lost cause. His dismissal, straight after lunch, was quite bizarre. He drove the newly-capped Andrew Symonds for four first ball, followed by two wides, and lofted the fourth to deep cover. Nothing could have summed up Kent's demise more succinctly.