Kent drew with Warwickshire

One of the reasons given by those unfortunate wretches that don't like cricket is that it is a game that can last several days and still end in a draw.

Warwickshire's match at Canterbury was just such a contest. The scoring was not quick; there were many more maidens than sixes and the teams ended in exactly the same position as if it had rained throughout the final day.

Yet this was an enthralling match. It was keenly contested by two strong sides, the drama lasted to the very last ball and it ended in breathless excitement. It was a classic.

Warwickshire had no right to escape with a draw. They were outplayed, out-thought and out of luck. Yet from the depths of 73 for five at lunch on the final day they somehow survived a further 75 overs, defying the spiteful pitch, irrepressible bowlers and logic. On St George's Day it was a performance rich in Dunkirk spirit.

Warwickshire's primary heroes were Tony Frost (232 balls, 14 fours) and Alex Loudon (171 balls, nine fours). The pair batted throughout the afternoon session, wearing down the bowlers and providing hope.

It was a particularly important innings for Loudon. He rejected Kent's offer of a new contract during the winter and was greeted with cries of "turncoat" as he strode to the crease.

For many Warwickshire supporters the jury has been out over Loudon. Signed to replace Brad Hogg and preferred to Jim Troughton in the side, his reputation has preceded his record.

But anyone who saw this innings will be convinced of his ability. He has the talent, technique and character to prosper as a batsman at this level and will score many runs for the club, though his bowling remains a concern.

Loudon was almost inert in his watchfulness at first. It took him 29 overs to reach double figures and it took 96 balls before he hit his first boundary. Yet, as he settled, he showed some superb strokes, timing the ball as few can and thwarting his former team-mates. Several of them applauded his half-century.

Min Patel appeared to have made the breakthrough just after tea. He took three wickets for four runs in 18 balls to leave Warwickshire hovering on the edge of the abyss. But if Warwickshire had no chance, no one had told Frost.

No one batted better than Frost in this match. Not Knight, not Bell and not van Jaarsveld. Several times rearing deliveries smashed into his hands while at other times only the toe of the bat kept out 'shooters'. Not only did he survive, he produced some of the sweetest shots of the match.

His chanceless innings belied the spiteful pitch and utterly justified the decision to recall him in place of Keith Piper, despite the latter's excellence in the match against Glamorgan.

Frost fairly oozes into his cover drives, off front and back foot, and showed - as he did against Sussex last year - that he is a player of character and style. He was magnificent.

All the tail weighed in. Neil Carter summoned every ounce of restraint to resist for 48 balls and, when he fell to the new ball, Nick Warren - who has yet to score a Championship run - somehow kept out the final 33 balls in partnership with Frost.

Perhaps Kent's inexperienced attack pitched too short in the last session. Perhaps if Rob Key (at short leg) had held a 'chance' off Warren's glove (though he says it was his arm-guard) with eight balls to go, the result would have been different. Perhaps Warwickshire just don't know when they're beaten.

Many sides would have had the stuffing knocked out of them when Knight played around the first ball of the day. Ian Bell followed minutes later, nibbling at one that held its own outside off stump, before Jonathan Trott clipped a half volley straight to square leg.

Michael Powell was beaten by a good ball that nipped back and kept low while Dougie Brown did well to edge one that spun sharply away from him.

The heroic salvage operation should not mask the inadequacies of Warwickshire's performance. They were outplayed for much of this match and their reliance on Ashley Giles is unhealthy.

Their much-vaunted batting line-up, shorn of Hogg and Mark Wagh, appeared pedestrian, while the bowling continues to lack penetration. They are not, on paper, anywhere near the best team in the division. But in terms of spirit they are unsurpassed. Their unbeaten record stretches to 19 months and 18 Championship matches.

If anyone doubted the importance of this result they needed only to look at the faces of the Kent team afterwards. Several looked physically sick and it will take some time to recover from the crushing disappointment of this missed opportunity. Their fine cricket had proved futile and they ended with the same points as their opponents.

Perhaps they knew the truth of Steve Perryman's words. The Warwickshire bowling coach, not a man prone to hyperbole, said: "That's the sort of performance that wins championships."

Few would bet against him.