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The Electronic Telegraph Tour Match: Kent v New Zealand
The Electronic Telegraph - 15-18 July 1999

Day 1: Cairns in form at right time

Neville Scott

New Zealand (103-1) trail Kent (201) by 98 runs

If, as captain Stephen Fleming fears, Simon Doull is ``very doubtful'' for Thursday's Lord's Test, the performances of his fellow seamers are opportune indeed.

Yesterday, Chris Cairns, with seven for 46, produced the best figures by a tourist against Kent since 1966, following the lead of Dion Nash, who returned seven for 39 at Southampton last Saturday.

In that same game, Doull, arguably the Kiwi's key strike bowler, locked his knee and immediately submitted to microsurgery, exploratory but enough to keep him out for 10 days.

Fairly or not, Cairns, through a career much upset by injury, has gained the tag of a hit-and-miss cricketer. He certainly filled the breach here, sweeping aside four top-order batsmen in 12 balls of his second spell immediately after lunch, having bounced out Robert Key in the morning.

The first three balls of his next burst were enough to knock over Kent's last two and bring an early tea as the county fell at least 100 short of a reasonable score.

All this was with the aid of just one other fit front-line bowler, since Geoff Allott operated well within himself and Nash, another carrying a groin strain, not at all. Cairns repeatedly surprised batsmen with the bounce he extracted from an otherwise friendly surface.

Though teenage debutant Matthew Banes went lbw offering no shot third ball and Mark Ealham was dismissed by a low, in-swinging full toss, both David Fulton and Andrew Symonds mishooked at short ones, Martin McCague top-edged his cut and Darren Scott followed a wide, rising ball.

Kent, resting five players, learnt little. Only their three in-form men impressed, the correct Ed Smith reaching 72. Replying, Matthew Bell went driving at Ealham's out-swinger, his hopes of an opener's berth hardly enhanced, but Matthew Horne passed fifty in 78 balls.

Day 2: Horne makes most of gift opportunity

Neville Scott

New Zealand (423-4) lead Kent (201) by 222 runs

Against Kent's limited attack on a tame pitch with the crucial second Test looming, New Zealand's Matthew Horne took the chance to play himself nicely into tune for the assignment ahead.

Horne decided this was no day for throwing down challenges as he dug in to compile a steadfast 172.

The opener had obviously not been swayed by the splendid lunch-time entertainment provided by a party of touring Zulu schoolboys, guests of the county, whose dancing may have seemed, to Kiwi eyes, like some South African version of a Haka. Hayden simply did not rise to the bait.

Resuming on 57 off 105 balls, he added 115 more from another 253 until, 30 minutes from the close, he was at last undone by one which Matthew Fleming managed to nip back. His superb temperament evidently suits an adopted home in New Zealand's bleak and windswept South.

Nathan Astle, arriving in the sixth over and similarly set on time at the crease, only reached fifty after lunch before allowing his square cut to blaze.

By the time he swept at the tall off-spinner, Darren Scott, to be caught at slip from top edge and forearm, Astle had made 121 from 186 balls, with seven of his 20 fours (with two sixes) coming from his favourite shot.

The approach was undoubtedly correct - their British Universities match apart, the tourists have produced just three other top-order scores over 50. Yet how much they can conclude from steamrolling this attack is another matter.

Of two locally-born youngsters, Scott is in just his fourth match and James Golding, tall, blond and burly, is a debutant seamer. Martin McCague has only been picked three times this year and Andrew Symonds actually took the new ball.

Golding proved as impressive as any, his maiden scalp gained when Stephen Fleming aimed an airy Goweresque waft at a wide one and deprived the crowd of his often sublime strokeplay.

Roger Twose, dropped off Fleming on 52, at least brought them some late belligerence and, on 59 not out, will look for a lot more today.

Day 3: Tourists show a harder edge

Neville Scott

Kent (201 & 145-2) trail New Zealand (591) by 245 runs

On the face of it, warm-ups for a critical Test do not come much more encouraging than this. But cricket and apparent logic have only a nodding acquaintance. A New Zealand side drawn from a population roughly 17 times smaller than Britain's, after all, have little business posing any threat in the first place.

Yet in the last Lord's encounter, in 1994, they were within two wickets of their third win on English soil. And, with anything like adequate bowling at the key phase at Edgbaston a fortnight ago, they might more cruelly have probed England's infamous frailty under pressure.

Far be it for the English to comment, but a lack of the hardness to prevail is a perceived New Zealand problem. In successive Tests they have seen England come surging back to win, for in Christchurch two years ago they watched them make 303 batting last.

Less pity was offered here. New Zealand's 591, through fully five-and-a-half sessions, was their highest total in this country Warwick Armstrong's 1921 Australians alone have made more in tour matches against Kent.

For the first hour, Kent were on top for the only time in an innings resumed at 423 for four. Craig McMillan failed - a worry - undone by Martin McCague, perversely bowling at his most fiery for years.

Adam Parore shouldered arms to a Mark Ealham ball which hit off-stump and left-hander Roger Twose (73) went to one which novice off-spinner Darren Scott turned enough to find the edge.

But either side of lunch, Chris Cairns and Dion Nash (a violent, undefeated 66 from 81 balls after 197 for once out against Hampshire) smashed 105 ninth-wicket runs in 24 overs, the innings not ending until 65 minutes before tea.

Kent's attack, however, even counting Matthew Fleming's back-up seam, featured just two of their regular first-choice bowlers - Andrew Symonds, no less, shared both new balls claimed. Dean Headley's glaring absence was a confirmation that Kent expect him to be available for their game against Nottinghamshire on Wednesday having been released by then from England's squad.

Simon Doull is far from surplus to opposition needs. When fit he has arguably been the key Kiwi strike bowler in recent years and, after microsurgery on his dodgy knee last Tuesday, he was working out vigorously yesterday.

Officially Doull remains ``very doubtful'' for Lord's, but heaven and earth will be moved to play him.

In his absence, the extra batsman, Matthew Bell, would come in, New Zealand opting for the attack which failed to separate Kent's openers here in 15 overs to tea.

Day 4: Pembury babes lift Kent

Neville Scott

Kent (201 & 417-9) drew with New Zealand (591)

ED Smith and debutant Matthew Banes, two products of Tonbridge School and, more notably still, of the same Pembury Hospital which has now given cricket six contemporary players, set Kent up for an ultimately tense draw.

Smith, 22 today, a Cambridge Blue, with his fifth century in all and highest yet for his county, and Banes, 19, brought such devotion to their task that the first 30 overs yielded just 45 runs before attack came against the new ball. This, in the hands of man-of-the-match Chris Cairns, 10 for 116 overall on a pitch which battered fellow bowlers into submission, undid both batsmen in 35 minutes either side of lunch.

But Andy Symonds entered the fray to slam a typically pulverising 102 from 149 balls.

Banes was watched by his mother and three sisters while his engineer father was unfortunately unable to get a flight back in time from work in Zambia. If Banes failed in the end to get behind the ball which had him taken at second slip, it was the 174th faced in his 53.

Smith, slicing a drive to gully, has now extended his career average to 41.03 in his fourth season - all the more odd perhaps that he was dropped for five games after one failure in Kent's opening innings this summer.

More curious still is that these are but two of four Kent players with an identical Pembury/Tonbridge lineage. Add Nick Wilton, of Sussex, and Nicky Phillips, at Durham, both involved in the last championship round, and a single maternity ward serving a few commuter-belt communities near Tunbridge Wells delivered six future cricketers during five years in the 1970s.

Well done Pembury. But the proof this gives, despite ECB denials of the damaging contraction of cricket's social base, is startling. Another Old Tonbridgian, Lord Cowdrey, patron of an urgent initiative this year to return the game to inner city London, has much to oversee.

Symonds, an emigrant to Australia at 18 months, brought his own style to gaining the draw. Cutting and driving square or hammering the boards with short-arm pulls, an astonishing 80 per cent of his runs came in fours.

But following Mark Ealham, 43, who edged a turning Daniel Vettori ball to slip, and another debutant, Matthew Golding, Symonds was the third man dismissed in nine overs, and Nathan Astle's second leg before victim in seven balls as the Kiwis struck back during the hour after tea.

By the time Simon Willis went eighth out, to Vettori, Kent had taken the lead and when, four overs later, slow seamer Astle threatened to become an unlikely winner by startlingly bouncing out Martin McCague, they were 18 ahead with effectively 23 minutes remaining.

Captain Matthew Fleming and last man Darren Scott survived five overs, however, before the tourists conceded the draw and Fleming took L2,750 of sponsor's money for achieving it.

This in the second successive game that New Zealand have faltered on the final day. Particularly worrying was the inability of Vettori to claim more than three for 116, given that the last two Tests, at Old Trafford and the Oval, are likely to be played on turning pitches.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at et@telegraph.co.uk