Driver back in style to thwart Kent

Lancashire 226 Kent 102-4

By Derek Hodgson
Thursday 30 January 2014 04:40
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Few mortals outscore Stuart Law. So Ryan Driver's first championship innings of this summer lit up a grey chilly morning on Merseyside. The 23-year-old Cornishman, a tall left-hander, arrived to join Law with Lancashire at 40 for four.

The pair added 99 in the next 21 overs, Driver starting with a frightening sequence of flashes, misses and edges, before settling into the form that made his name at Worcester two years ago; powerful driving off the middle, either side of the wicket.

Why Driver has taken 18 months to recover the style that first attracted attention is a mystery but if he can sustain it then Lancashire's batting, with David Byas due to return on Sunday, will have an altogether superior second half to the season.

Driver, especially hard on the ebullient Martin Saggers, had reached 56, to Law's 48, when he was bamboozled by Amjad Kahn whose high-trajectory slower ball turned into a yorker that flattened his off stump.

Kahn, Kent's fast-bowling EU import from Copenhagen, was again their star, finishing with five for 74 and bringing his season's total to 20, most of his wickets being won by high, late bounce.

The pitch looked dry but a stiff crosswind made attacking strokes risky and once the fifth-wicket partnership had been broken Lancashire subsided, with only John Wood's 24 bringing a beefy finale.

In their reply, Kent found the Lancashire seamers difficult to contain. Robert Key was surprised to see second slip take a catch nonchalantly out of the sky and headed back to the pavilion without troubling the scorers. Glen Chapple seamed one ball into David Fulton off such a length he was forced to play and edged behind, and when Ed Smith tried a second time to pull Peter Martin, he was caught in the deep.

Andrew Symonds' promising start was interrupted by rain and then terminated on 12 by Driver, whose first ball, right-arm-medium after the break, cut away. Symonds tried to remove his bat and succeeded only in steering to second slip.

The Aigburth pitch looks good but seems too quick and it will need a substantial innings from someone on either side for the match to reach a fourth day.

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