Friends Provident Round-Up - May 4th 2008

There were a number of close finishes in the latest round of Friends Provident Trophy matches, with both Lancashire and Kent taking wins with less than two balls to spare. Richard Reardon at Hove, Jim White in Southampton, and Pierce Morley-Barnes report. Jump to: South-West Division (Hants v Gloucs., Somerset v Glamorgan) | Midlands & North Division (Notts v Northants., Leics. v Ireland, Lancs. v Durham, Derbys. v Scotland) South-East Division Hove: Sussex 245-6 lost to Kent 249-6 by four wickets Kent skipper Robert Key won the toss and once again chose the option to chase. He may have been regretting his decision with the Sussex openers utilising the Powerplays skilfully. The opening pair put on 62 for the opening wicket before Yasir Arafat finally got one right after some previously wayward bowling. He trapped Chris Nash (23) leg before, which brought Sussex skipper Chris Adams to the crease. He was looking to play attackingly maintaining the fantastic start his openers had made. A free hit from Ryan McLaren was sent over the extra cover boundary as he looked to get some sort of form with the bat after previous failures. The Kent players would have been relieved to see the dangerous Matt Prior (31) departing, he has been in fine form at the start of the season and looked well set to make a big contribution in this match. He was caught behind off the bowling of Arafat who went on to pick up three wickets in the match. Murray Goodwin (5) came and went before Adams (30) was also dismissed off the bowling of Simon Cook. Luke Wright and Michael Yardy came to the crease needing to rebuild the Sussex innings and they went about their task patiently, with Wright (35) playing uncharacteristically for his runs, before he lost his bat attempting a run and was run out. Yardy (50) however went on to make his half-century, and was joined by Carl Hopkinson (35*) who has also shown promise in the early season. He stayed until the end and was later joined by Robin Martin-Jenkins (11*) and managed to get the side up to a respectable total of 245-6. Arafat was wayward early on but weighed in with 3 important wickets. Simon Cook was the other contributor as he collected figures of 2-25 off 10. The Kent innings started with disaster as Key departed early on for just two. Joe Denly (43) and Martin Van Jaarsveld (58) began the rebuilding process, and brought up a hundred partnership. Denly was dropped twice, the first time with his score on 32, then again next over whilst on 33. Sussex were not made to pay too significantly as he departed ten runs later for 43. As so often happens with a big partnership when one goes the other soon follows. This was the case with Van Jaarsveld who brought up a wonderfully quick half-century but was then caught behind off Wright for his second victim of the over. Darren Stevens (15) made a small contribution before being run out following a mix up with Justin Kemp. Kemp and Geraint Jones entered the last 10 overs needing 85 to win, with all indications pointing to a tense finish to the game. Jones weighed in with a run a ball 24 before edging behind off the bowling of Wright. Dangerman Azhar Mahmood came to the crease and was immediately dropped on 0 by Chris Nash. However he will be thanking team mate Tim Smith who caught the batsmen shortly after only making 8. At the other end South African Kemp was going well and brought up his half-century with a six back over Wright’s head. 18 off Wright’s over, the penultimate of the match looked to set up an unlikely Kent win when they required 8 runs of the last over. A four off the second ball of the over with the rain starting to fall set up the win which was achieved with one ball to go after Kemp hit Kirtley for 4. Kirtley was left with too much of a job to do as Kemp led Kent to victory against Sussex like he did at Tunbridge Wells in 2006. Kent will play Surrey tomorrow in the same competition, both will be high on confidence after wins today whilst Sussex host a Middlesex team who suffered a similar fate today. Lord's: Middlesex 233-8 lost to Surrey 236-5 by five wickets The Middlesex innings started disastrously when they slumped to 37-4 following the cheap departures of the top four batsmen. Pedro Collins and Jade Dernbach were the bowlers doing the damage early on. Wicket-keeper Ben Scott (52) and Gareth Berg (65) began the rebuilding of the innings and the pair brought up their half-centuries. With the innings resurrected Vernon Philander (24) and Tim Murtagh (35) had the licence to come in a play some shots to make vital use of the last few overs to get the team up to a competitive total of 233-8. Matt Nicholson was the pick of the bowlers collecting figures of 3-37, and a lot of praise will go to Dernbach 3-44 and Collins 2-36 for the damage done early on. Surrey’s innings began in stark contrast to Middlesex’s; Scott Newman (35) made a good contribution to set up an assault from the middle order batsmen. He was run out on 35 putting an end to an 87-run partnership with fellow opener James Benning. But it was all about Benning who showed his credentials as a pinch hitter at the top of the innings on his way to his first century of the season. The England hopeful hit 106 off just 84 balls, of which 72 were scored in boundaries and played a vital innings. Usman Afzaal (21) played the foil to Benning’s innings, the pair put on 77 with Afzaal contributing just 21. The damage had already been done by the time both batsmen went in quick succession, Murtagh and Shaun Udal the benefactors. Mark Butcher (12) provided little resistance, before Ali Brown (40*) and Jonathon Batty (18) finished off the job setting up a win by 5 wickets. The wickets were shared between the Middlesex bowlers with Philander picking up the other wicket. Much will be owed to Benning for setting up this victory and Surrey will go on to play Kent who won in the other tie in the southern league today. Middlesex will be looking to pick themselves up with a trip to Sussex tomorrow.