Middlesex 410; Kent 205-5
The first half of the day was spent waiting for Aravinda de Silva. Until he appeared at 18 minutes past three, when Kent were 65 for 2, the game had meandered uneventfully along on a pitch which was developing into a slow turner. Batting had looked hard work.
De Silva arrived in Phillip Tufnell's first over of the afternoon, to a good round of applause engendered, no doubt, by his brilliant 112 in the Benson and Hedges final. But he, too, found it difficult although he stayed to the end of the day when he was 69 not out in just over three hours.
His first eight runs came in measured singles and although his impeccable defence was not really threatened for a long time, he did not attempt anything extravagant. Indeed, his first serious drive, off Tufnell, who beat him in the air, produced a mis-hit which almost gave Mark Ramprakash a catch to his left at cover before going on to the Tavern boundary.
Tufnell immediately gave his well-known imitation of a scalded cat and at the end of the over retreated to backward point where he proceeded to drop De Silva off John Emburey. De Silva again drove without looking entirely in control of the stroke and sliced the ball to Tufnell's left. Emburey masked his disappointment better than Tufnell had done earlier.
Briefly, before the tea interval, the show was stolen by Trevor Ward who drove Emburey for three powerful fours which took him past 50. Then, in the last over before tea, Ward stretched far forward to Tufnell and to his justifiable dismay and Tufnell's understandable delight, was given out lbw. Earlier, Nigel Llong had been caught at slip off Tufnell's arm ball.
By tea De Silva had scored 20 which was made up of one four and 16 singles. Afterwards De Silva faced Emburey and the second and third balls of one over were flighted as much as Emburey allows himself to do. De Silva took a pace and a half down the pitch to each and they made the members jump when they landed several rows back in the pavilion. They were superb strokes.
By then, Tufnell was presenting an excellent and most enjoyable rival show to De Silva's which brought him 3 for 51 in 27 overs. His first overs had been bowled before lunch and when he came back in mid-afternoon he showed plainly that if he and Ray Illingworth remain incompatible, England's cricket will be the loser.
Tufnell has the most predatory of approaches to the wicket with that joyful skip in the middle of his run. All the time he bowled he looked like taking wickets and he worried every batsman including De Silva. His rhythm and control were both excellent and he is surely bowling with a greater sense of self-belief than at any time in his career. He removed Graham Cowdrey, caught off his glove sweeping, and had countless vibrant appeals turned down.
A fine spell by Angus Fraser in the evening accounted for Mark Ealham and saw De Silva, when 42, dropped low down at first slip. De Silva reached his 50 with a square cut off Tufnell and, with Steve Marsh, stayed to the end when Kent still needed 56 to save the follow-on.