If one moment summed up Kent’s perfect start to the season it was the unofficial “Tea” just after they’d completed skittling Gloucestershire for 61 at Canterbury on Day 3.
Victory took everyone somewhat by surprise – although at 37-9 we should have expected it. It was a glorious sunny Sunday afternoon, Kent had won and rather than immediately heading down the Old Dover Road, many Kent fans stayed put, sat contentedly in the warm glow of victory as well as delightful April sunshine, finishing off their picnics and drinks.
The premature but positive end to the first game of the Specsavers County Championship campaign was a delightful change from the norm of relentless drizzle, bone chilling wind, bad light and a dreary draw or careless loss. Unless of course we’re playing Worcestershire in the middle of the River Severn!
Kent followed it up with another magnificent romp against near neighbours and highly fancied Sussex. Once again, the batting was pretty reasonable, but it was the bowling attack that did the damage.
The concern regarding taking 20 wickets to win matches has dogged Kent for years, but Claydon and Harris chipped in nicely in the first game and new overseas signing Wayne Parnell and Matt Coles did likewise at Hove.
However, the ever-youthful Darren Stevens has caused the most mayhem. His 6-22 in the incredible 2nd innings rout of Gloucestershire was a thing of beauty although the Gloucestershire coach won’t have been happy to see four players bowled playing no shot…
In Sussex he was once again pivotal, 68 in the first innings, 71* in the second and then to top it off 5-51 as the chaps from Hove subsided from 59-0 to 200 all out in 50.1 overs.
Amazingly the win leaves Kent in third spot due to the equally positive starts by Nottinghamshire and Northamptonshire.
We might come to regret not collecting a third batting point against Gloucestershire. We next host Derbyshire who endured a wretched winless 2016 in the Championship and began this term with a loss.
Kent will look to keep their momentum going, such a precious commodity in team sport, but given we’re still in April, will be keeping half an eye on the weather forecast.
It was great to be back watching cricket in the sunshine with the Grumblers at the Nackington Road End. It felt more like June than April and with the team making such a bright start.
Looking further ahead Kent kick-off their Royal London One-Day Cup campaign at home to Hampshire on Thursday 27 April.
With the format played in blocks Kent will then play all their eight group games in a row spread over two and a half weeks so if they want to reach a Lord’s final they will need to be on their toes in May to qualify from traditionally the stronger southern group.
Surrey away will be tough and the final home game against Essex could be decisive. We can but dream…