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Rain washes out Spitfires Twenty20 opener

Sunday 24th May 2009

Twenty20 Cup, Southern Group. Kent 16 without loss after 3.2 overs, Essex 187 for seven off 20 overs (Cook 80, Pettini 31, S Cook 2-36). Match abandoned one point each. Canterbury
By Mark Pennell
LIGHTINING and heavy rain put paid to the opening Twenty20 Cup Southern Group clash between Kent and Essex only 20 balls in to the Spitfires“ reply.
With Kent on 16 without loss in pursuit of the Eagles 187 for seven, umpires Trevor Jesty and Neil Bainton took the players from the field with lightning flashing overhead.
Within five minutes the heavens opened and, much to the regret of a 3,500 crowd, the match was abandoned after a further inspection at 5.45pm.
The Essex innings, which started in bright sunshine as the visitors elected to bat, was anchored almost throughout by England“s Test opener Alastair Cook.
In only his fourth Twenty20 appearance, Cook posted a competition-best 80 from 56 balls beating his modest previous cup best of 15. The 24-year-old raced to a 36 ball 50 and shared in an opening stand worth 63 in six overs with his skipper Mark Pettini.
Dropped on 15 when Rob Ferley downed a stinging chance at mid-wicket, Pettini eventually went for a second top score of 31 from 19 balls.
After good early impetus, Essex lost their way somewhat with a lethargic second-wicket stand between Cook and Grant Flower, who was surprisingly sent in well ahead of big-hitting one-day specialist Graham Napier, who eventually came in at No6 with only 13 balls of the innings remaining.
Indeed six-hitting was a rare commodity throughout the 20 overs as Eagles struggled to clear the ropes only three times. It took Cook 18 overs to strike his first maximum to long-off against Justin Kemp, but the bowler had his revenge next ball up by clinging on to a return catch.
Kemp finished with two for 38, but Simon Cook and Azhar Mahmood were arguably the pick of the Spitfires attack each claiming two wickets apiece in tidy four-over stints.