A very wet ground greeted Ireland for their first away match against Kent. Kent won a Benson and Hedges cup match by 10 wickets at Comber in 1995. The pitch at Tunbridge Wells was well protected, but looked a little green, and play began at 11 a.m., only 15 minutes late. Despite only 42.5 overs being bowled in the day, the last ball was not bowled until 6 p.m. Rain caused havoc. The match began as one of 49 overs per side. After 2.2 overs were bowled, there was a rain delay of 110 minutes. On resumption at 1 p.m. the overs per team were reduced to 40. The resumption only lasted until 1.16. More rain until 3.40 p.m., lunch by then having been taken, saw the final overs reduction to 23 per team, and 6.1 had already been bowled at a cost of 41 runs. Now three bowlers would be allowed to bowl five overs each and two could only bowl four. After the resumption at 3.40 there were no further delays in either innings and the interval between the innings was reduced to eight minutes.
In this type of match against experienced professionals Ireland had not much chance. Kent knew they had to force the pace from the start. They had opted to bat on winning the toss and knew there would be rain delays. In fact, Kent did well in scoring quickly and not losing too many wickets. The boundary count for fours and sixes was the same, nine of each, and so 90 of 186 runs came in boundaries. Six Irish bowlers were used. Five went for seven or more per over and only Johnston, who bowled his five overs from the start, had respectable figures, 5-0-22-0.
Ken fielded three South African Test players, Hall, Kemp and van Jaarsveld, two English Test players, Key and Patel, a Danish international, Amjad Khan, not forgetting Ireland's own Niall O'Brien, the wicketkeeper. Ireland made two changes. Morgan, now available, replaced White and P Mooney came in for Langford-Smith.
Johnston and P Mooney bowled 14 balls to Stevens and Denly before the first rain delay. 18 runs were scored. Denly snicked one four but Stevens hit two good ones in three balls. After resumption, Stevens hit an off-drive for four off P Mooney. Next ball was a mispull which went back over the bowler's head and Morgan diving at it from mid-off nearly made a brilliant catch. The score was 41 in 6.1 overs when the rain came again.
Resuming at 3.40 p.m. it was now known that there would be 23 overs to each team. Botha replaced P Mooney and 55 was up after nine overs. Then Stevens hit Botha for six over mid-wicket. Next ball was a noball but the free hit only cost one run. J Mooney replaced Johnston for the 11th over which cost six runs. Botha's third and last over went for 19. Stevens had two successive sixes, the first to long-off from a free hit, the second straight, and it took Stevens to 54 out of 90 out of 38 balls. Then, in over 13, a wicket fell. Denly, who had scored 24 in 36 balls, pushed out at J Mooney and was bowled. 92-1-24. Kemp came in and 100 was brought up in over 14, the first bowled by Afridi, by means of singles. Then Kemp, in over 15, hit J. Mooney off successive balls for four to extra cover, a huge straight six, and a straight four off a full toss. The next ball, the first of Afridi's second over, had Stevens stumped as he overbalanced to leg having missed an offside shot. 116-2-59. Stevens scored 59 from 45 balls with three sixes and four fours.
Van Jaarsveld joined Kemp and any hope Ireland had disappeared. In 38 balls bowled by Afridi and Saqlain 64 runs were scored. In Afridi's third over, the 18th, Van Jaarsveld square cut a four and Kemp hit a six to long-on. This was the first of six sixes which were struck in five overs. In over 19 Van Jaarsveld hit Saqlain for six over long-on. Over 20, bowled by Afridi, brought 150 up and a six over mid-wicket by Kemp. He repeated this in Saqlain's next over. In over 22 Kemp hit Afridi for successive sixes, over long-on and mid-wicket, off the first two balls to go from 45 to 57. The third ball of the over had Kemp caught at mid-wicket. 180-3-57. His 57 were scored in 33 balls with five sixes and two fours. With nine balls left the Kent captain, Key, came in. He scored off the first five balls he faced and was out to the last ball of the innings. He was caught at long-on for nine leaving Van Jaarsveld 29 not out from 20 balls and a 23 over total of 194.
Afridi did take two wickets but they cost 48 runs in five overs! As rain had deprived Kent of some resources, Duckworth/Lewis deemed that Ireland needed 205 to win in their 23 overs. The Irish reply could hardly have started worse. In 25 balls half the team was out for 16 runs! The sixth wicket fell at 36. Then McCallan, Gillespie and John Mooney combined to nearly reach 100 but at least they achieved almost 5 runs per over. Afridi was promoted to open as Ireland's only hope was quick runs at the start. As a consequence, Bray faced the first ball of the innings for only the sixth time in 52 innings. He did not survive the over. Two wides gave Ireland a start but Bray snicked the fifth ball and third slip, Van Jaarsveld, brought off a wonderful diving catch taken left-handed low to his left. 2-1-0. Afridi hit Hall's first ball for four. Three wides followed but Afridi, like Bray, did not survive the over. He was caught at deep mid-wicket and, once again, could be blamed for not being more careful early on. 10-2-4. Joyce had crossed on Afridi's dismissal. The final ball of Hall's over had Joyce caught waist high at first slip. 10-3-0. This was Joyce's first zero for three years.
Amjad Khan's second over was played out without a wicket falling and five runs were scored. Not so Hall's second over. The first ball had Johnston LBW shaping to play to leg. 15-4-2. Kent gave both opening bowlers only two overs each, keeping them in case of an Irish revival! In fact both did appear again but took no more wickets. In four overs they had four for 15 between them. Kemp, another fast medium bowler, replaced Khan for over five. Botha glanced his first ball and O'Brien brought off a legside catch. 16-5-1. Gillespie joined Morgan who had come in for the seventh ball of the innings but had faced only four balls to date. This scarcity of striking continued. Gillespie faced the first 13 balls of the 19 ball stand with Morgan which produced a much needed 20 runs. Gillespie hit two of his first three balls from Kemp's over for fours through the covers. Treadwell, off spin, replaced Hall, 2-0-8-3, for over six. Gillespie hit his first ball for four over mid-off and the second for another four over mid-on. Min Patel, slow left-arm, replaced Kemp, who had only bowled one over. Morgan played four dot balls in his over. He had now faced eight balls for one run. The ninth ball dismissed him. He came down the pitch to Treadwell, missed, and gave O'Brien another victim. 36-6-1.
McCallan was next. In five overs, all from the same two bowlers, Treadwell and Patel, 23 runs were added with Gillespie. They came via 14 singles, a 2, a wide and a six over mid-wicket by Gillespie off Treadwell in over 10. Then Gillespie was dropped twice in successive overs. Kemp, running in from mid-wicket, failed to hold a difficult chance off Patel. Next over Treadwell failed to hold a hard caught and bowled chance. Gillespie did not prosper from the escapes. The first ball of Patel's next over, the 13th, bowled him, head up and swinging. 59-7-36. It was a gallant effort by Gillespie to save face and he had now got good scores on successive days. Today he faced 33 balls with a six and four fours, out of only six fours in the innings. There was more to come. In the remaining seven overs of the innings McCallan and John Mooney put on 36 and in the seven overs faced no less than five bowlers! Patel bowled out his allowed five overs, the only one of Kent's six bowlers to do so. Then Van Jaarsveld was given two overs. He was hit for 13 runs and the only four of the stand to mid-wicket by McCallan
Khan, Hall and Kemp were tried but the eighth pair stood firm. 24 of their 36 runs came in singles. Then the rain came on again. They played in it for a little while but came off after 19.5 overs. Then very heavy rain prevented a return. Only Gillespie and McCallan will have fond memories of this match among the Irish.