By Clive Ellis at Maidstone
First day of four: Yorkshire 292-5 v Kent
KENT are becoming painfully familiar with the Darren Lehmann walk. Unfortunately for them, it has nothing to do with the Australian's standards of sportsmanship.
Lehmann's busy batting style is marked by the propensity for striding purposely forward as he plays a shot. His balance is not compromised and leaves him poised for the quick singles which are an intrinsic part of the Australian's positive approach.
Kent scarcely need reminding that Lehmann played a telling role in denying them both the County Championship and AXA League last season. He inflicted a significant batting blow yesterday with an unbeaten 120.
That much they might have expected. The surprise package was Gavin Hamilton, seemingly flattered by his number seven slot, who figured in an unbroken left-hander's alliance of 157 in 45 overs to undermine a position of considerable strength for Kent when Yorkshire were 135 for five in mid-afternoon.
Lehmann's bold running invited the vague possibility of a run-out at any point, but he gave no chances. Kent had no such consolation with Hamilton.
Twice Mark Ealham saw chances spilled off his bowling: when Hamilton had made only one, wicketkeeper Steve Marsh failed to hold a sharp catch, diving in front of first slip; Carl Hooper was the culprit when Hamilton had made 53.
Yorkshire had started smoothly enough on an easy-paced pitch, Michael Vaughan and Anthony McGrath adding 62 for the first wicket. Lehmann reserved his best shots for the point area and completed his hundred off 157 balls while Hamilton passed his highest championship score of 61. With the main string to his bow as a pace bowler, he could be an important asset for Scotland in next year's World Cup.
Day 2: Rare resistance by last pair
By Clive Ellis at Maidstone
Second day of four: Kent (165) trail Yorkshire (423-7 dec) by 258 runs
IT took Kent's last-wicket pair, Ben Phillips and Min Patel, to introduce the first note of defiance on a day extravagantly biased in Yorkshire's favour.
Phillips and Patel joined forces at 99 for nine and put their colleagues' feeble efforts in perspective during a stand of 66 in 25 overs.
The momentum was already with Yorkshire at the start, on the strength of the enterprising sixth-wicket partnership between Darren Lehmann and Gavin Hamilton on the first day.
They went for their shots and had taken their stand from 157 to 174 when Martin McCagueremoved both in one over. Hamilton was yorked by the first ball, and Lehmann followed an imperious hooked four with a hopeless miscue to mid-on.
Chris Silverwood and Richard Stemp took 14 off an over from the normally stingy Carl Hooper, Stemp hitting a straight six.
Silverwood reached his fifty off 67 balls and it was a surprise to see David Byas, the Yorkshire captain, ending Kent's misery and a stand of 109 in 24 overs with a declaration before lunch.
It was a decision, however, that kept the Yorkshire momentum going. Paul Hutchison had Robert Key lbw, and after the interval Silverwood and Hutchison tore the heart out of Kent's batting with four wickets in 16 balls between them.
Both bowled with genuine pace but Kent should not have found themselves on 30 for five.
Matthew Fleming, who survived a first-ball appeal from Hutchison for a catch at short leg which, if granted, would have netted the leftarmer a hat-trick, made 49 off 66 balls, but the biggest and longest stand was that between Phillips and Patel.
They came together when Ryan Sidebottom's first two balls accounted for Fleming and McCague, both lbw. Yorkshire's hopes of enforcing the follow-on were then put on hold by bad light.
Day 3: Fulton and Ward restore Kent pride
By Clive Ellis at Maidstone
Third day of four: Kent (165 & 332-4) lead Yorks (423-7 dec) by 74 runs
DAVID FULTON and Trevor Ward restored battered Kent pride with a second-wicket stand of 172 in 40 overs which eased rather than broke Yorkshire's stranglehold.
Yorkshire are still the more likely winners, but there was much to admire in the way Fulton and Ward all but wiped out Kent's first-innings deficit of 258.
In statistical terms, Fulton's career-best score of 142 not out appears the more meritorious contribution. Yet Ward's higher tempo innings of 94 had as much significance in the context of Kent's inconsistent season.
He came to the wicket with a meagre 184 runs in 13 innings behind him and a highest score of 40. An immediate, effortless straight four off slow left- armer Richard Stemp suggested a player in high form and his striking was so clean throughout that his 117-ball innings was laced with 17 fours. Sadly, with a century at his mercy, he clipped Stemp to Anthony McGrath at midwicket.
Fulton reached only his second championship hundred off 181 balls as the Yorkshire pace bowlers toiled without reward or encouragement from the benign pitch.
All four wickets were claimed by the accurate Stemp, though each owed something to batting misjudgment. Most crucially, in terms of a rapid scoring rate in the final session, Carl Hooper was lbw sweeping in the first over after tea.
Alan Wells soon followed, but Fulton and Mark Ealham prevented further Yorkshire success, adding 55 thoughtful runs in 27 overs.
Day 4: Fulton forces his way into record book
By Clive Ellis
Final day of four: Kent v Yorkshire
DAVID FULTON'S name will not often be mentioned in the same breath as Frank Woolley's but the Kent opener obliterated one of the left-handed great's many records for the county with a double hundred founded on monumental concentration.
It was a day when statistics, stacked up in the course of a sturdy Kent rearguard, had the final say on a pitch which frustrated the life out of Yorkshire's bowlers. It seemed to get better on each day rather than worse.
In years to come, the more figure-orientated supporters of these two counties will consult their respective handbooks and discover that Kent made their highest total against Yorkshire at Maidstone in 1998 and Fulton passed Wolley's innings of 188, made in 1931. The game itself will be less deserving of nostalgic reflection.
The seeds of Kent's revival were in a last-wicket stand of 66 in their first innings between Ben Phillips and Min Patel, which brought some order to the chaos of 99 for nine.
Fulton took guard at 11 o'clock on Friday morning, as Kent followed on 258 behind, and was finally out just before 3.30 pm yesterday, having occupied the crease for 623 minutes and faced 505 balls. There was a slightly farcical note to his dismissal as he was stumped off part-time spinner Darren Lehmann.
It was an extraordinary effort, given that he had scored only one previous championship hundred, but his run-an-over tempo, after a deceptively fluent start, meant that Kent never quite got into a position to set the sort of target which would have given both sides a realistic chance.
At least the cricket retained its serious aspect in the morning session, which brought Kent 78 runs in 32 overs, the bulk scored by Mark Ealham. Fulton became so bogged down that he was stuck on 149 for 45 minutes and made only 19 before lunch.
Ealham, in particular, took a heavy toll on Richard Stemp as he pitched short repeatedly, but he took 31 balls over the last two runs which brought him his first century of the season.
He celebrated with a fierce assault on the overworked slow left-armer and was promptly caught in the deep off Lehmann to end a stand of 210 in 80 overs.
Fulton soldiered on and if his innings was short on memorable shots, it was certainly high on application, a quality which has been lacking among his team-mates as they have chalked up just seven batting bonus points in nine matches, the lowest in the championship.