Puppyish Cowdrey shows his pedigree

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The Independent Online

reports from Lord's

Kent 219-8 Middlesex 173 Kent win by 46 runs

A century by Graham Cowdrey and a Sunday-best return for Aravinda de Silva's off-spinners ensured Kent remained top dogs in the 40-over competition after their emphatic victory over lacklustre Middlesex.

Any mutterings about Middlesex fielding a weakened side would be foolish. Captain Mike Gatting has a broken finger, John Emburey has been treating it as a day of rest for the last month or so, while strike bowler Richard Johnson has a back condition which, understandably, Middlesex did not want to risk. Anyway, having begun the day in 17th position, they are no doubt concentrating on the County Championship.

Their demise was still pathetic, after Paul Weekes and Jason Pooley capitalised on some wayward Kent bowling at the start of their chase. For almost 14 overs the pair punished anything loose, clipping, clubbing, cutting and driving to 81 until Weekes unwisely attempted to reverse sweep De Silva and top-edged a catch to the acting captain, Steve Marsh.

Pooley went on to reach 51, his highest score of the summer, before De Silva struck for the second time. Again a sweep shot was to blame. Mark Ramprakash and Keith Brown's dismissals brought the Sri Lankan's figures to 4 for 28 and Middlesex collapsed, losing their last seven wickets for 41 runs in 10 overs.

Middlesex lacked someone of the quality of Cowdrey. His name betrays his pedigree, his bulk belies his athleticism. All five of Cowdrey's sixes were cultured shots, the products of timing and power. One of Cowdrey's seven fours was all run and he scampered enough singles and twos to suggest he is more greyhound than lurcher.

His delight as he reached his first century in any form of cricket at Lord's was puppyish, but the way he acknowledged the crowd's appreciation of his 81 ball effort - his second Sunday hundred of the summer - was courteous, bat raised and a wave with his free hand to all parts of HQ.

Cowdrey was particularly brutal on Umer Rashid, three of his sixes coming in the second - and last - over bowled by the England Under-19 slow left- arm bowler. Once Cowdrey had reached his half century he stepped up the pace, his second 50 coming off just 25 balls. The only survivor from the wreckage of the Middlesex attack was England's Angus Fraser who - in view of the carnage - finished with a very respectable 4 for 18.