Kent v Northamptonshire, County Championship, Canterbury, 4th April 24, 2009

No Major interest in tedious draw

Mark Pennell at Canterbury

Northamptonshire 355 for 348 for 7 (Peters 107, Boje 70*, White 70) drew with Kent 417

It was questionable which was the bigger, more attractive, draw at the St Lawrence ground on Friday as Kent's first ever game in the LV Championship second tier ended in a tedious stalemate.

While the four-day game died a lingering death, so former Prime Minister and Surrey supporter John Major was giving a 40-minute lunchtime speech to 300 members of the Hoppers' Tie Club annual lunch held in the Colin Cowdrey stand overlooking Kent's headquarters.

Fair to say tickets for both events were not in huge demand but at least Mr Major raised a few laughs and a ripple of applause, which was marginally more than more than could be said for the fare on show out in the middle where Northamptonshire grimly, and single-mindedly batted their way to a draw.

Kent were hindered going into this final day when Azhar Mahmood pulled up in the warm-ups with a stomach strain and played no further part, heaping the onus onto an already weakened attack. On-loan Steffan Jones and Martin Saggers did their best, but a sublime batting pitch coupled with Northamptonshire's determination not to give it away, meant that run-scoring, let alone entertainment, was few and far between.

After 40 minutes' Saggers finally dislodged night watchman David Lucas (13) with an away-swinger that he nibbled to the keeper then, after posting a 212-ball century with 11 fours, Stephen Peters went on the stroke of lunch after clipping a simple catch to short mid-wicket off James Tredwell.

Incredibly, the second session proved even more tedious as the visitors lost two more wickets in adding just 64 runs in two hours. Riki Wessels nicked to slip to give Tredwell a third wicket then Saggers returned with the new ball to rearrange the stumps of his former Kent team-mate Andrew Hall for only three. As he did in his six-hour first innings knock, Nicky Boje dug in thereafter to frustrate the hosts for another 250 minutes. After surviving a big appeal for a bat-pad catch when on one, the South African left-hander went on to score 50 in three hours with only five boundaries.

Kent captain Robert Key's response was to bring himself on for a rare stint of leg-break bowling. With only career 23 overs behind him, Key allowed himself an unprecedented nine-over stint from the Nackington Road End during which he picked up his maiden first-class wicket when David Willey chopped on for 47.

With Boje still unbeaten on 70, the teams shook hands on a draw at 4.50 pm by which time Mr Major and his security entourage had sped off toward London. Wisely, they had not bother to stay and watch the cricket.