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Nottinghamshire beat Kent to take title

IRONIC: Former Kent star Mark Ealham took the winning catch
IRONIC: Former Kent star Mark Ealham took the winning catch

Nottinghamshire won by 214 runs

NOTTINGHAMSHIRE were crowned county champions for the first time since 1987 by clinching a 214-run win after Kent’s run-chase gamble petered out on a somewhat farcical last day in Canterbury.

Just when it appeared this rain-affected match that lost 100 overs to inclement weather would peter out into a draw, so the captains David Fulton and Stephen Fleming came up with a rather ludicrous run chance deal.

For their part Kent declared 249 runs behind on first innings on their overnight score of 237 for seven, leaving debutant Neil Dexter 21 short of a maiden first-class century and Niall O’Brien 14 short of a career best.

Nottinghamshire then tucked into some very friendly part-time bowling from Kent to add 170 for three inside 23 overs as former skipper Jason Gallian followed his first innings 199 with a brisk, unbeaten 74.

It all left Kent with 70 overs in which to chase 420 runs for a victory that would just about keep their outside title chances alive.

But in the absence of overseas professionals Andrew Hall and Justin Kemp, opener Rob Key hampered by a groin injury and batting with a runner and Fulton, Matt Walker and Martin van Jaarsveld out of form the chances of a Kent win appeared slim.

It soon proved impossible for Kent to keep their championship aspirations going into next week’s final match when they slumped to 70 for five inside 22 overs.

Key, unable to push forward from the crease and virtually playing on one leg, miscued a pull to square leg then, soon after lunch, Fulton got hold of his pull against Ryan Sidebottom only to pick Andrew Harris running in from long leg.

In the next over Matt Walker edged a drive to third slip off a Harris ball going across the left-hander’s body then Darren Stevens fell in identical fashion to one that lifted.

Dexter’s four-day debut ended on a low note when he drove at one from Mark Ealham that just held its line up the St Lawrence slope to feather the edge and go to wicketkeeper Chris Read.

The ousted England gloveman then made his second glaring mistake of the game by dropping van Jaarsveld on 47 off Ealham’s bowling. The South African duly made him pay by reaching only his second championship half-century in seven games.

But, with his score on 64 he clipped a return catch to Greg Smith to leave Kent in dire straits come the tea interval on 122 for six.

The demise continued after the break when Harris took his tally to six for 76, bowling Patel and Cook with in-duckers then trapping Simon Cook leg before with another off-cutter.

With a touch of irony, former Kent star and crowd favourite Mark Ealham then pocketed a sharp gully catch to dismiss Niall O’Brien and claim Nottinghamshire’s first title in 18 years with 17.2 overs to spare.


Nottinghamshire first innings

D J Bicknell b Cook 64
J E R Gallian run out (Dexter) 199
R J Warren lbw b Khan 8
S P Fleming c Saggers b Khan 1
D J Hussey c Dexter b Stevens 11
C M W Read c Fulton b Walker 75
M A Ealham c Khan b Saggers 72
G P Swann c O’Brien b Cook 23
R J Sidebottom not out 1
G J Smith not out 9
Extras 23

Total 486 for eight declared after 131.5 overs.

Fall of wicket: 1-157, 2-174,l 3-178, 4-194, 5-340, 6-420, 7-475, 8-477.

Bowling: Saggers 25.5-4-100-1, Khan 31-11-82-2, Cook 25-6-109-2, Dexter 10-1-55-0, Stevens 18-1-70-1, Patel 18-1-48-0, Walker 4-0-12-1.

Kent first innings

D P Fulton c Warren b Ealham 35
R W T Key c Smith b Ealham 43
M van Jaarsveld c Read b Swann 9
M J Walker lbw b Swann 11
D I Stevens b Swann 0
N J Dexter not out 79
N J O’Brien not out 56
Extras 4

Total 237 for five declared after 80 overs.

Fall of wicket: 1-66, 2-89, 3-99, 4-99, 5-108.

Bowling: Sidebottom 14-3-36-0, Harris 16-4-44-0, Swann 21-5-66-3, Smith 15-2-43-0, Ealham 14-2-44-2.

Nottinghamshire second innings

J E R Gallian not out 74
D J Hussey c O’Brien b Dexter 0
C M W Read c Saggers v van Jaarsveld 63
R J Warren c Saggers b Walker 16
S P Fleming not out 6
Extras 11

Total 170 for three declared after 24 overs

Fall of wicket: 1-0, 2-116, 3-163.

Bowling Dexter 6-0-42-1, Stevens 3-0-19-0, Walker 9-0-95-1, van Jaarsveld 4-1-12-1, Saggers 2-1-1-0.

Kent second innings

D P Fulton c Harris b Sidebottom 12
R W T Key c Swann b Harris 6
M van Jaarsveld c&b Smith 64
M J Walker c Gallian b Harris 3
D I Stevens c Gallian b Harris 11
N J Dexter c Read b Ealham 4
N J O’Brien c Ealham b Smith 28
M M Patel b Harris 37
S J Cook b Harris 2
A Khan lbw b Harris 15
M J Saggers not out 18
Extras 5

Total 205 all out after 52.4 overs.

Fall of wicket: 1-10, 2-26, 3-30, 4-52, 5-70, 6-124, 7-156, 8-158, 9-180.

Bowling: Sidebottom 8-1-28-1, Harris 17-0-76-6, Swann 14-3-55-0, Ealham 9-0-25-1, Smith 4.4-0-18-2.

Nottinghamshire win by 214 runs.

Kent 3 points, Nottinghamshire 20 points.

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