Patel preserves Kent

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The Independent Online
STUNNING batting from Matthew Maynard and Tony Cottey set up an exhilarating finish to a match which, in mid- afternoon, had looked destined to settle into a dull draw. Certainly the feeling in the Glamorgan camp was that Kent's declaration was as slow in coming as the famed rhododendron blooms that colour this delightful ground, but they chased their target of 271 in 44 overs or more with such fervour that victory could never be discounted.

What always threatened to stymie Glamorgan was the slow left-arm bowling of Min Patel. The Kent spinner struck vital early blows when he dismissed David Hemp on the stroke of tea and Adrian Dale soon afterwards. The left- handed Hemp had just struck Patel high out of the ground when he padded up to the replacement ball, while Trevor Ward's catch ended a threatening stand between Dale and the punishing Maynard. Ironic, then, that 14 runs from Patel's penultimate over should take Glamorgan so close. However, with five needed off the last over, Patel shut them out, getting rid of Cottey and leaving Glamorgan two runs short.

In a match already containing three good hundreds, as well as a near miss by Ward, Maynard's 73 off 68 balls and Cottey's 85 from 88 had a daring all of their own. Maynard pulled and drove, particularly through mid-wicket, with an elan that made a nonsense of Kent's far-flung field placings, and he greeted Alan Igglesden's belated entry into the attack with a clubbed six to accompany his seven fours. But in the next over he was bowled going down the pitch to Patel.

The diminutive Cottey, hitting eight fours and a six, maintained the momentum and but for the freakish run-out of Hamish Anthony he would probably have been the architect of Glamorgan's victory. Unfortunately Anthony's straight drive off Martin McCague struck the umpire Allan Jones, and as he doubled up in pain the bowler gathered the ball and threw to the wicketkeeper Steve Marsh with Anthony well stranded.

At the start of this final day (the match began on Wednesday) Glamorgan were frustrated by the Kent lower order, who followed Mark Ealham's example by treating some ordinary bowling on its merit. Resuming on 36, with Kent just 150 runs ahead and one of their remaining five wickets, Neil Taylor, nursing a broken knuckle, Ealham added 61 with Marsh. Before a double breakthrough sent them both back, Ealham eased to his second fifty of the match.

At 25, Ealham has still to post his maiden first-class century, yet in his neat, unassuming way he looked on course for it yesterday until Darren Thomas, in a wayward spell, found the edge of his forward defensive stroke. In the next over Marsh was caught close in off Robert Croft, but now Glamorgan were held up by McCague, Dean Headley and Igglesden. Having McCague caught at fine leg off a top-edged sweep gave the left-arm spinner, Neil Kendrick, his fourth wicket in a tidy performance for his new county.