Ward heaps misery on hapless Surrey

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The Independent Online
Kent 318-8; Surrey 225-7

(Kent win by 93 runs)

Under some circumstances, Surrey would have been left feeling quite chuffed after collecting eight wickets for under 90 runs in 15 overs. The snag was that the Kent openers had put 229 on the board by the time they were separated, Trevor Ward leading the way to a substantial victory in this group match with a first Benson and Hedges Cup century.

In truth, on an easy-paced pitch and against such a mediocre attack, a Kent record partnership in the competition should have provided the foundations for a mammoth score. Then again, whoever followed Ward, whose 125 earned him the gold award, and Mark Benson to the wicket was on an absolute hiding to nothing.

Having lost the toss, Surrey could hardly have guessed what agonies they were about to go through when Nadeem Shahid let slip a two-handed chance off Benson at backward point. The captain had made eight and Kent were in their fourth over. Shahid may have wished the ground had opened up and swallowed him. In the 35th over, when he again dropped Benson, then on 59, he may have felt like calling for a shovel.

If Benson showed some frailties, then Ward gave a chanceless performance. He greeted Mark Kenlock, for example, with a sizzling boundary, and the left-arm seamer's first three overs were butchered for 22.

Ward brought up his hundred with a 14th four and Martin Bicknell suffered further in the same over when he was smashed for a straight six. Benson, on the other hand, could not emulate his runaway No 2, taking pity on poor Shahid and being bowled by the leg spinner when attempting an ambitious sweep 15 runs away from making another three-figure contribution.

When Ward skied Kenlock to mid-on, he had faced 140 balls and plundered two sixes in his 16 boundaries. Then came another kind of carnage. Matthew Fleming, who had made an unbeaten 121 last Friday in a friendly here with Essex, had been promoted to No 3 and was the third out, and only Graham Cowdrey was to progress to the twenties as the collapse continued.

All of which gave hope to Surrey, who needed to score at a shade under six an over. Cowdrey, though, ran out Darren Bicknell with a direct hit after Martin McCague had delivered the third ball of the innings, while Dean Headley sent back Graham Thorpe in the next over and David Ward in the sixth.

Alec Stewart made 45 and Shahid improved his overdraft with a half-century besides featuring in a stand of 89 for the seventh wicket with Martin Bicknell, but there had only been one result after Mark Ealham had whistled out Adam Hollioake and Stewart in four deliveries.