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The Electronic Telegraph Warm-up match: Kent v England
Michael Henderson at Canterbury - 7 May 1999

Symonds provides England with taste of what lies ahead

England (197-7) beat Kent (163) by 33 runs (D/L method)

Hard as the rain tried to prevent it, England gained some valuable practice in the first of the three friendly matches that preface the World Cup opener against Sri Lanka at Lord's next Friday. They prevailed despite persistent morning drizzle, which reduced the game from 50 to 38 overs a side, and after Andrew Symonds, the Australian all-rounder, had briefly raised hopes in the early evening of a Kent victory.

England will be encouraged by the half-centuries of Graham Thorpe and Neil Fairbrother; by Ian Austin's four wickets; and by the noticeable improvement in Andrew Flintoff's bowling. The strapping young man also took a fine catch in the deep, though it was eclipsed by Nasser Hussain's brilliant left-handed snaffle in the gully that dismissed Ed Smith.

When they reflect on this match, though, they would do well to remember how profoundly the absence of Symonds from the Australian World Cup party reflects the strength of their opponents. He made 57 immensely powerful runs, took two wickets and ran out Flintoff from point with a sharp piece of work. At all times he looks a real cricketer yet he has not been able to penetrate the Australian one-day side.

Would that England had such a gifted young player, though David Lloyd would counter that Flintoff is equally capable and, as a striker of the ball, more explosive. But, even in defeat, this was a day Symonds will remember, not least the way he went to his fifty, heaving Flintoff on to the roof of the Cowdrey Stand at deep midwicket. He perished two balls later, taken very well by Robert Croft, running in from third man, but he had provided half an hour of rich entertainment.

``At a crucial stage of the game the boys stuck at their task very well,'' said Stewart. ``The important thing is, we put the ball in the right areas.'' From 146 for five, and Symonds going well, Kent were dismissed for 163, 33 runs short of the revised target, under the bewildering Duckworth-Lewis system, of 196.

Before the rain came after the ninth over of the morning, England had lost their openers. Put in to bat on a pitch that started damp, Nick Knight edged an intended drive at Dean Headley, and Stewart's miserable sequence continued, run out when Mark Ealham retrieved a throw from Symonds and returned the ball to Headley.

Stewart badly needs a decent score and the unfortunate manner of his dismissal was hardly designed to improve his mood. Hussain has been implicated in many run-outs in his career but, on this occasion, he was not culpable. Playing instead of Graeme Hick, who spent a day resting, Hussain made 36 before he was lbw, struck on the back leg as he tried to work Matthew Fleming through midwicket.

At this stage of the innings, the dapper left-handers came together in a stand that yielded 81 runs. Graham Thorpe, fresh from the embarrassment of his 1,000 fine for refusing to attend a Kent members' meeting, played sensibly for his half century and, after he shovelled a catch to midwicket, Fairbrother batted through the innings.

Fairbrother displays few visible signs of ageing, at least when he has a bat in his hands. On this occasion he also looked quite sprightly in the field, though he cannot be the dasher he once was. By working the ball around so expertly, and treating himself to the occasional biff, as when he drove Julian Thompson for the six that raised his half-century, Fairbrother remains a deceptively quick scorer. His unbeaten 54 came off 60 balls.

According to the Duckworth-Lewis system, which owes more to whim than anything else, Kent had to make 196 for victory, instead of the 198 England had set them. They started poorly. Darren Gough had Trevor Ward lbw, Smith was aghast to see the leaping Hussain pull down a screamer, and Austin's arrival immediately brought the wicket of Robert Key.

Ealham, playing for his county against team-mates he will rejoin today, kept Symonds company long enough for England to worry, and even when Ealham was run out, Symonds dispatched the ball to the furthest boundaries. Flintoff, struck for that mighty six, was to be avenged, though, and with Symonds went Kent's chances of victory.

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