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Cassar presents his case

By Neil Hallam at Derby

2 August 1998

Derbyshire (156-2) bt Kent (155-8) by 8 wkts

MATTHEW CASSAR, who recorded the highest AXA League score of the season with 134 off 108 balls against Northamptonshire a week earlier, wrenched a featureless contest out of its torpor with a domineering, unbeaten 67 off 65 balls as Derbyshire overcame Kent's listless challenge to win with more than five overs to spare.

Cassar's first-class average of 41.3 from 537 runs this season is, interestingly, superior to that of England's new hope Andrew Flintoff in as many games and the impression of a substantial career taking shape is further enhanced by his place well up the AXA League list with an average just below 55.

Opener Michael Slater and left-arm seamer Kevin Dean were both awarded county caps during tea and it seems unlikely that Cassar, an Australian who completed residential qualification in 1997, will have to wait long for similar recognition.

Until he took a firm hold on proceedings with two sixes off consecutive balls from Mark Ealham - the second spilled over the boundary by Julian Thompson - the dullness of the cricket was in marked contrast to the brilliance of the weather and the festive trappings of what Derbyshire had designated a 'Family Fun Day'.

A hot-air balloon took off behind the scoreboard but what was served up in front remained rooted in ordinariness as Kent subsided to 57 for five and finally to 155 for eight with only Ealham, Will House and Steve Marsh able to rouse a leaden tempo on a slow pitch exploited by mainly accurate bowling.

Derbyshire's response was not much more convincing when Slater chopped into his stumps and Robin Weston chipped to midwicket but with Cassar signalling rising confidence by adding six fours to his two sixes, Kent's use of eight bowlers never amounted to more than a loss-adjusting exercise.

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Date-stamped : 03 Aug1998 - 06:16