County Championship: Kemp propels Kent to Championship summit

Surrey 452-8dec & 350 Kent 572 & 232-6 (Kent win by four wickets)

David Llewellyn
Saturday 11 August 2012 04:11

It was Min Patel who had initially transformed a game meandering to a dozy draw into a tense finish, when he put the skids under Surrey's dawdling second innings with a wicked four-wicket burst in mid-afternoon.

The Kent openers, David Fulton and Robert Key, then got the chase for 231 from a minimum of 35 overs off to a great start with a brutal 13-over onslaught on a flat pitch which had offered nothing but runs since the first day.

The Surrey attack, without Martin Bicknell, who had failed to recover from a hamstring strain, lacked someone with the ability to contain and struggled manfully but hopelessly against successive Kent big shots.

After Fulton and Key had departed, Martin van Jaars-veld and Matthew Walker maintained the momentum with belligerent knocks, but it was Kemp and his fellow South African Andrew Hall, then the wicketkeeper Niall O'Brien, who stepped up the pace and the pressure on a wilting Surrey attack.

Kemp's 37-ball innings of 47 contained three huge sixes which all finished up over midwicket in Woodbridge Road. Hall smashed two more sixes. Jimmy Ormond, Surrey's most experienced bowler, was dispatched for 16 runs in the penultimate over, leaving just three runs required off the last over, O'Brien's four through extra cover off the first ball sealing it.

Patel had given Surrey a rude awakening with a spell of 4 for 15 in 31 balls, after having sent down 41.5 hypnotic, but wicketless overs. That spell jolted the sparse crowd out of its torpor and into a state of edgy watchfulness.

As soporific and stultifying as the cricket had been, especially when Mark Ramprakash and Graham Thorpe were ambling along, there was still a feeling that Surrey were being too casual. All the while Thorpe and Ramprakash were together there were just four boundaries struck. The pair were on the brink of a hundred partnership and within sniffing distance of lunch when the first alarm bell sounded.

Thorpe pushed at a ball from Van Jaarsveld, whose floated off-spinners are not to be treated lightly, and the edge was snapped up at slip, with the latest England retiree just three away from a second fifty in the game.

Ramprakash fell after lunch, by which time he had reached his second half-century of the game. Only at the dismissals in quick (by the standards of this match) succession of the big-hitting Alistair Brown and Rikki Clarke - Patel's first victim - did further alarm bells start ringing. But too late to stave off Patel, who then picked off Ian Salisbury, Azhar Mahmood and Mohammad Akram.

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