Ealham's all-round show

CRICKET: Kent 238-9; Glamorgan 230
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The Independent Online
A fine exhibition of pinch-hitting, first from Kent's Matthew Fleming, then a more murderous assault from Glamorgan's Robert Croft, set the standard for an entertaining and ultimately dramatic day's cricket, won by Kent with four balls to spare. Mark Ealham was the hero, twice taking two wickets in his final two overs and finishing with figures of 5 for 41 - all five coming in a spell of nine balls in which he conceded one run - to go with a fine half-century.

Fleming's and Croft's innings were built on by more cultured efforts from Adrian Dale (65) and Ealham (61).

Croft was particularly venomous, fairly tearing into the Kent attack. After three overs he had scored 34 of Glamorgan's 36 runs, the other two were extras. His destructive innings included two sixes and half a dozen boundaries and he reached his half-century in 31 balls. Kent's left-arm seamer Tim Wren came in for a bit of a hammering, three of Glamorgan's four sixes were thumped off him.

Croft was out two deliveries after reaching 50 but Steve James, then Adrian Dale carried on the good work, albeit more sedately. James found his form with 38, his best one-day score of the season. Dale went on to make a worthy half-century, ensuring that the Glamorgan run-chase did not lose its way, because an asking rate, even on such a good wicket, of six an over took some getting. That they failed was down in the end to Glamorgan panicking and some fine bowling by Martin McCague and Ealham at the death.

Both sides have won the 40-over competition in the last four seasons - Glamorgan in 1993 and Kent two years later - but their performances last year were undistinguished. Yesterday made up for that. They produced some excellent cricket which entertained the 5,000 or so who were packed into the ground.

Ealham did much to maintain the Kent momentum with his 68-ball 61, an innings which included five fours. Besides Ealham's knock there had been some lusty hitting throughout the Kent innings. Fleming's first six over extra cover off the bowling of Waqar Younis in the Pakistani paceman's first over was some hit, and showed complete disregard for the threat presented by Waqar. The pick-up for his second six off Steve Watkin was almost contemptuous. It had helped him to 33 at much better than a run a ball.

Next ball - the 28th of his innings - he was superbly caught by Gary Butcher at deep extra, the fielder having sprinted 35 yards to take the catch.

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