Marsh makes his mark amid the monotony

Kent 590; Essex 70-2
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The Independent Online
One of the intentions of four-day cricket is that it should prevent all those three-day draws and the contrived declarations that led to spurious results.

Unfortunately, one of its by-products is that it brings about second days like this when Kent batted on and on and on in search of a mountainous score and, however justified, the cricket becomes monotonous.

Statistically speaking, Kent achieved their objective and will now hope that the pitch will enable their spinners to win the match by an innings. Yet, Kent's tale took such a lot of dislodging that there seems to be no good reason why Essex, too, should not make a fair number of runs.

It was still unpleasantly cold and grey and overnight rain delayed the start by half an hour, but the rain held off. Much of the day was occupied with Kent's acting captain, Steve Marsh, making 127, which was the third century of the innings and the highest score of his career.

Marsh arrived after Graham Cowdrey had completed his hundred and then cut Ronnie Irani straight to gully. Cowdrey is having a good season and, although he does not possess absolutely all the family elegance at the crease, he is a pugnacious player who does Kent excellent service and is good value to watch. This was his 16th hundred.

For the rest of the morning, Marsh, mostly with Mark Ealham, batted as if deeply suspicious of the pitch, with one spell of 10 overs producing only 11 runs. Ealham played Mark Ilott to mid-wicket just before lunch, at which point Marsh had made 11 in 17 overs and 69 runs had come in 31 overs in the morning.

After the interval the tempo changed dramatically and Marsh made 116 in 32 overs in the afternoon before he was out on the point of tea. He hit the ball hard, was severe on all the bowlers and he pulled and drove almost at will. He reached his hundred with three successive fours off John Childs and celebrated with three more in the next over, from Neil Williams.

Marsh was finally out to a fine running and sliding catch on the straight boundary by the substitute, Duncan Ayres, after facing 157 balls and hitting two sixes and 19 fours. He had played very well after lunch, adding 150 in 33 overs with Julian Thompson. But, even so, there was a boring inevitability about it all. After that, Thompson and Martin McCague took the score almost to 600. The day ended with Graham Gooch in impressive form against the Kent spinners.

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