Kent made to suffer with injuries

Yorkshire 312 and 290-8 Kent 374
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The Independent Online
The Britannic County Championship is not a contest for the faint hearted, or the infirm, which may be why Glamorgan, providing they can polish off Essex, have suddenly become favourites to win this year's pennant. While they prosper, both Kent and Yorkshire, still locked in a dingdong battle for the points at Headingley, gain in casualties, the latest concerns being Dean Headley and Steve Marsh, neither of whom took part after tea.

It has been a strange 24 hours for Kent, who have seen their hopes both lifted and dashed, and not just by Yorkshire's spirited cricket or the 30 overs lost yesterday to rain and bad light. Fortified by the knowledge that Paul Strang, their Zimbabwean all-rounder, is to stay until Monday - he was due to fly out to Zimbabwe on Saturday - they suddenly found themselves back in the emotional doldrums as the injuries became apparent.

Marsh, their talismanic captain and one of the team's leading run-scorers, will be the greatest loss, should he be unable to bat today. Although x-rays showed no obvious fracture to his left thumb, it is painfully swollen following the nasty knock it received while standing up to Matthew Fleming.

Already hampered by the loss of two of their front-line bowlers, Headley's absence with a recurrence of an old hip injury, reduced Kent's chances of bowling Yorkshire out. Unless the home side roll over quickly this morning, Kent will probably now have to wait until the home side declare, a situation that many believe Headley had in mind all along, following his 13 wayward overs.

It has been a bad few days for England bowlers picked for the winter tour to the West Indies. With Darren Gough straining a hamstring on Thursday, and Ashley Cowans stirring a chronic shoulder injury down in Cardiff, only Andy Caddick and Angus Fraser remain fit to work.

Ironically, it is Caddick, whose recent history of injuries would fill The Lancet, who may yet have a vital role to play in determining where the Championship pennant ends up, when Somerset play host to Glamorgan in the final round of matches next Thursday.

Meanwhile, at Headingley there is all to play for as a evenly contested match reaches its climax today. Yorkshire beginning the day and their second innings 62 runs in arrears, finished it 228 ahead, with two wickets in hand.

On a pitch now beginning to reveal its fickle nature and bounce, it was a superb effort and one that owed almost everything to their two imposing left-handers, Darren Lehmann (68) and David Byas (74).

If it was French cricket rather than the English variation that was being played, Lehmann would surely be referred to in the best traditions of Franglais as Le Man. With 1,528 runs at an average at almost 67, he has been the outstanding batsman for Yorkshire this summer.

Confident that the pitch, despite its slowness will provide a stern test for Kent, Yorkshire threw the bat, losing six wickets - four of them to Mark Ealham before bad light brought a premature end to the day.

With both sides really needing to win, only prolonged showers, unfortunately forecast for today, can now make this game anything but riveting.

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