Headley medley is a hit

CRICKET Surrey 559 & 151-5 Kent 410
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The Independent Online
DEAN HEADLEY, with a little help from Min Patel, saved a match that had threatened to die a slow lingering death after Surrey's tortuous 10-and-a-half hour innings of the first two days. Festival Week at the St Lawrence Ground was resuscitated in 45 minutes of excitement in a day that was otherwise predictable fare for two struggling sides.

First the pair achieved what everyone assumed was impossible - a 74-run last-wicket partnership to avoid the follow-on,before Patel holed out. There was more fun to come when Surrey began their second innings with a lead of 149.

Headley, having been denied what would have been a thoroughly deserved half-century, opened the bowling, came steaming in and ripped out Darren Bicknell and Graham Thorpe with his first two deliveries. As these two had accumulated nearly 300 of Surrey's runs first time around, the hum from the tents was quite deafening.

Headley nearly had a hat-trick, too, his third delivery finding the edge of Alistair Brown's bat and zipping through the gully area for a streaky four.

The teams had packed into 45 minutes every bit of excitement the game had seen, but then things could only have got better after such a lethargic start.

Indeed, Surrey had been slow hand-clapped for their creepy-crawl, but after that the locals may have felt like sloping off into those hospitality tents and dropping the flaps as Kent's reply was, at one stage, a miserable three down for five runs. Surely 410 was beyond them?

Trevor Ward did much to repair the damage. A flamboyant fellow with the bat, he persevered in fraught circumstances and from an overnight 79 progressed to his first century in the championship since the opening match of the season. And it was not all graft either, a 138-ball effort laced with 19 boundaries.

Ward fell immediately upon reaching three figures after a fifth-wicket stand worth 121 with Nigel Llong. And while the left-hander and Steve Marsh made 50s and Mark Ealham a hard-hitting 47, it was Headley and Patel, batting despite a double fracture of the cheekbone, who ensured Kent were spared embarrassment.

That clearly was enough excitement for one day, shell-shocked Surrey retreating to Plan A via fifties from Brown and Mark Butcher in a hundred partnership which helped build a 300 advantage.