Gatting cuts into Kent

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The Independent Online
HENRY BLOFELD

reports from Lord's

Middlesex 362-5 v Kent

It was the day of the square cut in St John's Wood. For some reason Kent's bowlers were certain that if they bowled short and outside the off stump, they would reap dividends. They did, and all were paid into Middlesex accounts, especially that of Mike Gatting, who made 136.

Gatting these days comes as near as any batsman can to living by the square cut alone. An extraordinary percentage of his runs come in the 45 degree arc between third man and point.

Kent made a good start on a pitch which looked full of runs when Dean Headley, back on his old stamping ground, and Martin McCague removed Paul Weekes and Mark Ramprakash for only 26 runs. After that Kent did not help themselves, not least when Headley, after bowling 21 overs, was forcibly removed from the attack for the rest of the innings by the umpire Trevor Jesty for repeatedly following through down the middle of the pitch.

Early on Jason Pooley had square cut Headley and Graham Cowdrey had dropped an awkward chance two handed high to his left in the gully. Worse was to follow for Kent when Gatting, who was 14, square cut McCague and was badly put down by Min Patel to his left at cover.

The square cutting now began in earnest. All the bowlers, seam and spin alike, were guilty of giving Gatting and Pooley the chance to indulge this stroke. Steve Marsh, captaining Kent, made no apparent effort to block the stroke nor did he or anyone else appear to instruct his bowlers to redirect their attack.

There were other strokes, of course, as Pooley pulled Mark Ealham for six and Gatting began to use his feet to drive the spinners through the covers and back over their heads. They added 189 for the third wicket.

Gatting should have been run out when 74 and again at 83 and he was dropped at short extra cover when 85. The run out eventually came when Gatting, who was 97, square cut Steven Herzberg to within a yard of the boundary, and Pooley's excellent innings ended when he was run out five short of his century.

John Carr batted pleasantly for a time before being lbw playing across Headley and Gatting, after hitting one six and 18 fours was lbw half forward to McCague. Keith Brown and Dion Nash then took Middlesex past 350.

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