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Kent v Middlesex

Reports from the Electronic Telegraph

17,18,20, 21 April 1998

Day 3: Langer on top of Kent pace attack

By Charles Randall at Canterbury

Third day of four: Middlesex 146-5 v Kent

JUSTIN Langer did enough to suggest he should be a good asset at the top of the Middlesex order during a day halved by rain at the St Lawrence Ground yesterday.

The left-hander from Western Australia answered all the questions posed by Kent's set of England seam-bowlers for just over two hours in, to him, the alien conditions of a damp, soft pitch and changeable light.

Langer looked most at home on the back foot, hooking and cutting if given the chance, but Kent wisely pitched the ball up, and Matthew Fleming eventually claimed him for 44, caught at short-leg off a delivery that popped, with Richard Kettleborough following soon after in a similar way.

Mark Ramprakash played impressively, before Dean Headley, his England team-mate, found his edge, but the Middlesex captain's skill at setting Kent a feasible target should prove to be an equally severe test.

Kettleborough, the newcomer from Yorkshire, will have to hold down a place as opener where two other left-handers - Jason Pooley and Paul Weekes - have failed. Yesterday he at least won full marks for doggedness, lasting 2.5 hours for his 27.

Four inches of rain had fallen in the lead-up to the game, wiping out almost all of the first two days' play.

Day 4: Kent time chase to perfection

By Charles Randall at Canterbury

Kent (forfeiture & 253-6) bt Middlesex (228 & 23-0 dec) by 4 wkts

MATTHEW WALKER, who endured occasional spectator taunts about his shape during his mediocre season last year, scored an exemplary 68 against Middlesex at the St Lawrence Ground yesterday, which should surely help revive his career.

Kent almost won last year's championship with the handicap of an unreliable upper order, so it was a surprise when Walker led a challenging attempt on a contrived target of 252 off 60 overs, which succeeded with eight balls remaining.

This time Kent did not leave all the hard work to the Flemings and Ealhams of a glory-seeking middle order, but nailed together a suitable platform on an awkward pitch, with Alan Wells carrying on the good work almost to the end.

Though Angus Fraser nipped one through Wells to bowl him for 77, Matthew Fleming's audacious placements proved unstoppable and he wrapped up the contest by hooking Fraser for six. So a lively finish partly compensated for three days of rain.

Walker, at the age of 24, has had difficulty advancing from schoolboy prodigy at King's Rochester to seasoned professional, and last year proved yet another disappointment - one fifty in his 17 championship innings.

With John Wright, Kent's coach, insisting on approved nutrition for all his players, a leaner-looking and confident Walker appeared to have benefited. He miscued a catch to deep midwicket, but by then his sprightly 94-ball innings had overturned a bad start. David Fulton snicked fatally in the second over and Robert Key lost his off stump after an hour of his debut innings.

Wells accelerated at the right time, and Fleming - who was 'caught' at mid-off off a no-ball when nine - forged ahead to 40 in 44 balls.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
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Date-stamped : 22 Apr1998 - 12:55