Malcolm gets his man

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DAVID LLEWELLYN

It has been a long time coming, but Carl Hooper finally reached three figures in the Test series. Throughout a summer of oily butter and hosepipe bans, Hooper has often threatened to end his drought, only to end up with a trickle in the previous five Tests.

In fact, a missed chance by the unfortunate Devon Malcolm off his own bowling when Hooper's innings was but a single drop in what was to become an ocean of runs, could have changed the face of the innings. It would have changed the face of Malcolm. He was pretty glum after flogging away all day in batting paradise. But Hooper rode his luck then, survived a subsequent crack on the helmet by England's hard-worked fast bowler, and moved relentlessly into the sort of form that brought him five centuries and more than 1,500 runs for Kent last season.

He greeted one of Angus Fraser's stints with the first of his two sixes - this one high and straight on to the pavilion balcony. His other big hit travelled into the heat haze over long on. Shortly after that, Malcolm returned to the attack. Tea was brewing when Hooper smacked one ball straight back over Malcolm's head. Tired as he was, Malcolm did not give up. Next over he finally got his man, well taken off one that left the batsman. By then though, Hooper had left his mark in his 52nd Test match, with his fifth international hundred and his highest score against England.

Malcolm, at the scene of his nine-wicket heroics against South Africa last summer, said: "It was hard out there. Especially when Brian Lara was batting. This is a totally different pitch from the ones I bowled on against Australia and South Africa. There was no movement and the bounce is good this time." His prediction is a draw.

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