Ealham exploits the atmosphere

Kent 258 & 164 Warwickshire 137 & 58-2
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The Independent Online
Wickets continued to tumble with eyebrow-raising frequency here, although not in circumstances to warrant the concern of the umpires, who judged an untrustworthy pitch to be within acceptable limits. Their opinion was influenced by the fact that Mark Ealham's success in taking eight Warwickshire wickets for 36, the best figures of his career, owed more to movement in the air.

When conditions are in his favour, Ealham is a difficult proposition for most batsmen and his bowling yesterday morning, picking up where he left off after taking three wickets in a dozen balls on Thursday evening, was of high quality.

It was too good for the champions, who may have been asked to follow on but for the contributions of Trevor Penney and Michael Burns, the reserve wicketkeeper. As it was they were dismissed for their lowest all out total of a season in which, on this ground, they have yet to reach 200 in the first innings.

Warwickshire fought back well, dismissing Kent for 164 as Dougie Brown became the second bowler in the day to achieve a personal best: 6 for 52.

Dominic Ostler, atoning for his first-day errors, helped him along with a couple of sharp slip catches. Ealham, for the second time in the match, was caught at third man attempting to cut a short ball over the slips.

This was achieved with Tim Munton off the field, an inopportune absence given that Dr Ali Bacher, managing director of South Africa's United Cricket Board, contacted Warwickshire yesterday to remind them of their "gentleman's agreement" not to over-tax Shaun Pollock. Pollock has so far averaged around 22 overs per Championship innings, four more than Allan Donald's average last year.

The mathematics left Warwickshire needing an improbable 286 to win, a task made more difficult when Martin McCague claimed two early successes and Andy Moles retired with a damaged thumb.