I appreciate certain sections of the Kent Membership still shun the T20 format for all kinds of reasons and even those that don’t enjoy a Friday night at the Oval, but blimey, Kent’s astonishing and brilliant win over Surrey on Friday night will live long in the memory.
It is often a toss-up between Essex and Surrey on who Kent fans enjoy beating most, the splendid trouncing of the mob from the wrong side of the Dartford Bridge at a packed County Ground, Beckenham had given us all a spring in our step, but this was something else…
By my calculations it was the biggest crowd Kent have won in front of since 1978 at Lord’s against Derbyshire.
Recent improvements to the Peter May Stand have pushed the capacity beyond 26,000 and with just 100 returns up for grabs on the evening it easily topped attendances for our previous visits.
My guess a fifth of the crowd were of Kentish stock, Men and Maids from both sides of the Medway glorying in taking the Surrey superstars down a peg or two.
It didn’t begin well, 11 off Milne’s first over set the tone and after eight overs they were 99-0. Another rather deflating defeat beckoned as Roy and Finch pierced the field with impunity.
They were eventually snaffled, but the carnage continued via Sangakkara and Sibley. One Tredwell over got swatted for 17 to leave us peering down the barrel of 148-2 off 13 overs. Gulp. They were on for what? 230?
Credit to Kent for dragging it back thereafter, Milne and Coles holding firm to “limit” the Brown Caps to 205-5 off their 20 overs.
The full house purred with delight, for half of them another pint of beer or jug of Pimm’s was the first priority, but they still wanted to see spectacular batting with plenty of 4’s and 6’s.
With the £1 deposit for beer cups having ended the tiresome beer-snakes the real issue now is the “getting up in the middle of the over oblivious to blocking the view of those behind” – but fortunately where we were sat it wasn’t as bad as it is sometimes.
Kent’s reply began with a single off the first over, oh dear, but then they began to motor. Bell-Drummond and Denly in perfect harmony. They might have found the fielder more often than their opponents and were forced to run more 2’s to compensate (15), but gradually they built a platform. 91-0 at the half-way stage had our attention.
From glum resignation to a “we can actually do this” began to percolate through the Kent support. The complacent and gloating Surrey fans were beginning to fall silent as the partnership grew.
A required run-rate of 11.5 per over for the last 10 was a tall order, but DBD and Joe just carried on thrashing, carving, lofting and bashing the Surrey bowlers to all corners. It was majestic, it was brave, it was calculated.
Kent do not have a great record chasing huge totals under pressure under lights in front of a packed crowd, but as the 4’s turned into 6’s Kent became the favourites. Now ours to lose… Gulp.
Bell-Drummond finally went on 64 out of 163 as records tumbled. Billings then came in for a cameo of 16 at two per ball, but it was Denly who was the undoubted star turn.
He ended on an unbeaten 116 off 63 balls as Kent made it home with three balls to spare. All around the Oval pockets of Kent fans were euphorically punching the air, hugging their mates and cheering the result long and loud into the balmy South London night.
The statisticians were kept busy as well as the pullers of pints. Denly’s 116* the highest Kent T20 score, 163 the highest Kent partnership for any wicket and Kent’s highest successful chase in T20! It was also the 4th highest chase in T20 history and the highest against Surrey… Wow, just wow!
It followed on from a thumping win over an out of sorts Essex at The County Ground, Beckenham. An excellent crowd were treated to a splendid Kent performance and some utterly dire Essex fielding!
Neesham (3-37) and Milne (2-24) had outstanding debuts and Kent chased down 166 with nine balls to spare. It was a perfectly timed reply led by a wonderful 90* from Bell-Drummond.
The less said about the loss at Cheltenham the better. 30 runs short and a reminder anyone can beat anyone in the T20 Blast…
Nobody was ever going to beat anyone though in the Championship match with Northants at Beckenham.
In a must not lose game Kent did draw, but aside from setting all sorts of astonishing batting records it didn’t really help the promotion push.
Credit of course to Dickson for his historic and monumental 318, a stunning effort ably assisted by Denly and his own 182, but once the visitors had avoided the follow-on the game was dead.
A bit of sunshine and a T20 derby win against Essex helped the feel-good vibe too, but I am looking forward to getting back to Canterbury for the Gloucestershire game on Tuesday evening. Can Kent follow up the Surrey miracle with another fine performance?
You never know in T20, but it could be fun finding out…