June 23, 2002

West Indies A lose again despite Morton century

A blistering century from Runako Morton could not save West Indies A from a disappointing defeat against Kent in the cathedral city of Canterbury. Morton smashed 126, only to see the tourists' competitive total of 257 overhauled with five balls to spare in an exciting finale.

After an admirable effort from the batsmen, the West Indian bowlers gifted Kent an unlikely win. A regulation victory against British Universities and a scrambled win over Sussex is not much to show after an uninspiring start to the tour. They begin the first-class leg of the six-week visit against Derbyshire on Wednesday, looking for a return to winning ways.

Morton, at least, was superb. The 23-year-old, who has struggled in his two ODI's to date, took apart an inexperienced Kent attack after Daren Ganga had won another toss. He hit 11 fours and four sixes in his 133 ball knock, occupying the crease for a little over two hours.

His effort was not to be enough on a beautiful summer's day at Canterbury, the perfect setting for batsmen. Ed Smith (87) and Matthew Walker (75 not out) led the way, seizing on every opportunity given by an inaccurate attack.

Kent raced to 84 for one in fifteen overs. Marlon Black and Reon King were particularly wayward, inexcusable from the international pairing. Black redeemed himself slightly by dismissing young talent James Hockley, but Kent were gifted nine boundaries in as many overs. Smith and James Tredwell (30) were severe on anything loose, adding 54 for the second wicket.

Walker and Smith continued the attack with a workmanlike vigour. They added 105 for the third wicket, hitting seventeen boundaries between them. King, Tino Best, Gareth Breese and Dwayne Bravo were all too expensive, with six foot seven inch spinner Sulieman Benn (1-26) again the pick of the bowlers. Breese did at least remove Smith to put Kent under pressure.

With the required rate climbing well above six, Walker crashed Best for a timely six to relieve the pressure. Geraint Jones (25) found the fence twice, Bravo not the man for such a tight situation. King returned, finding Jones' edge, but too late. Victory was secured with a bye, a sloppy end.

Earlier, West Indies made a dreadful start, losing Ganga to a mix-up from the first ball of the match. Devon Smith (25) and Donovan Pagon (16) stopped panic setting in, before a double change bought wickets for James Tredwell (1-32) and James Golding (3-58).

Bravo (40) joined Morton, as the pair increased the run-rate, reserving their harshest punishment for Jamie Hewitt, whose four overs cost 40. Bravo was again impressive, the 18-year-old Trinidadian accumulating runs, a lofted six his only extravagance. The stand had reached 98 before he became Golding's second victim, trapped plumb leg before.

Morton continued apace, dispatching bad balls with a refreshing flamboyance. He appears have taken his second chance after disciplinary lapses led to him being expelled from the St. Georges Academy last year.

Breese (15) and 17-year-old Lendl Simmons (15 not out) added runs at the death, with Morton dismissed from the final ball of the innings. The visitors had reached an eminently defendable target, and would have ensured victory if they had not lapsed so badly with the ball.

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