University break is bad news for Kent

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Put to most cricketers, the idea of long, recuperative breaks between County Championship matches would receive a high level of support. However, a poll in the Kent dressing-room today might reveal some reservations.

Having claimed pole position in the Britannic Assurance table with their impressive defeat of Warwickshire, Kent temporarily leave the contest to entertain Oxford University. By the time they return, they may have been knocked off their perch by Yorkshire, who attempt to regain the leadership at the expense of Worcestershire, or Derbyshire, who completed a hat-trick of wins by trouncing Middlesex in the last round and have a chance to extend the sequence against bottom-of-the-table Northamptonshire, starting tomorrow.

Derbyshire are thriving under the Australian influence of their captain, Dean Jones, and their coach, Les Stillman, who have so far delivered their promise of a well-schooled, well-motivated team. Jones will be relieved to have Dominic Cork available at Northampton, still without a Championship success this season and well beaten by Hampshire last time out.

Warwickshire travel to Lord's under orders to go easy on Shaun Pollock. The demands being made of the 22-year-old South African caused Dr Ali Bacher to place an anxious telephone call to Edgbaston last week, reminding the champions of the "gentlemen's agreement" they made over how long and how frequently the fledgling Test star should bowl.

It has created a dilemma for Warwickshire. They accept Dr Bacher's concern, but believe Pollock is still not fully attuned to English conditions and, therefore, needs to bowl. On top of that, injuries to Tim Munton and Gladstone Small have stretched their resources.

Andrew Caddick, meanwhile, is keen to bowl as many overs as possible after several marathon stints against Worcestershire last week, when he took 7 for 83 in the first innings, impressing England selector Brian Bolus. Although Somerset lost the match, Caddick and Australian all- rounder Shane Lee are in fine fettle and could cause problems for Lancashire, whose Championship results so far have been disappointing.