Kent v Gloucestershire - LV= County Championship Division Two
St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury - 19th to 22nd April
Kent will look to continue their impressive start to the new campaign when the gates of the St Lawrence Ground are opened for the first time this season - Gloucestershire are the opponents.
Rob Key’s new look side dominated much fancied Yorkshire in the opening round of championship fixtures, with bad weather denying them a victory charge. However, Northamptonshire had no such luck last week and were blown away by a stunning all-round display as Kent powered to an innings and 120 run win, inside three days.
The bowlers hunted in packs on day one, at Wantage Road, as Charlie Shreck, Matt Coles and Darren Stevens each took three wickets to skittle the hosts out for 132. In reply, Kent were wobbling at 158 for six before Michael Powell – a summer acquisition from Glamorgan – crafted a fine 128 to put the visitors in control. The stylish right-hander added 165 for the seventh wicket with Geraint Jones (53) as Jimmy Adams’ men took a 236 run first-innings lead, a total far beyond Northants. Impressive youngster Coles was the star of the show in the hosts’ second innings - his genuine pace causing problems. He secured career best figures of 6-51 in a thumping win. After two rounds of action, Kent are nicely poised in second place – six points behind leaders Derbyshire.
Hot on their tails, in third place, are this week’s visitors, Gloucestershire. The side from the West Country have encountered a mixed start to the season. A poor display in their opening fixture saw them succumb to an innings and 38 run defeat, at the hands of Essex, but Alex Gidman’s men bounced back in positive fashion to overcome promotion favourites Hampshire at the Rose Bowl last week. A solid first innings total of 314 set them up for a tense 33-run win with opener Chris Dent striking a fine 114 to combat former Kent loan star David Balcombe, who returned stunning figures of 8-71. Five wickets from Will Gidman helped Gloucestershire claim a 115-run first innings lead before Hampshire fought back to bowl out the visitors for 174. This set them a victory target of 290 and, after being reduced to 72 for six, they looked to be crumbling away but wicketkeeper Michael Bates (87) and pace-bowler Chris Wood (65) rallied to put Hampshire in striking distance but Gidman returned to secure the narrow win; taking his eighth and ninth wickets of the match in the process.
Gloucestershire have signed New Zealand all-rounder Kane Williamson as their overseas player, for the second season running, but he is likely to miss the trip to Canterbury as he is not due to arrive in the country until April 26th.
A tough season for Kent last term was highlighted by the fact that Gloucestershire claimed a championship double. Back in April 2011, a tight encounter saw the visitors steal a 45-run win at Canterbury. Three wickets apiece for Azhar Mahmood and Simon Cook helped keep them in check - despite Hamish Marshall (72) and Chris Taylor (71) scoring runs. However their total of 292 was still enough for them to gain a first innings advantage as Kent stumbled to 208 all-out with only Adam Ball (46) and James Tredwell (44) contributing. Azhar added four more wickets to his match tally to keep Kent in touch as Gloucestershire made 206 in their second effort to leave the hosts with a victory target of 291. Key’s men looked down and out at 152-7 but Azhar showed his all-round brilliance, with a masterful 70, before three wickets from Will Gidman ensured Kent fell short.
The reverse fixture, during Cheltenham Festival Week, saw Kent slump to an innings and 142 run defeat. Will Gidman was again the main perpetrator, with five wickets in Kent’s first innings, while the left-arm pace of David Payne claimed four second innings victims. Kent’s totals of 205 and 168, including just one half-century from Darren Stevens, were well below par. The poor batting displays sandwiched the home side's monster 515 all-out. Chris Taylor, now the fielding coach with Somerset, was the main man - scoring 196 off just 248 balls - to ensure the home side were never in trouble despite five wickets from Balcombe.
Kent, under the tutelage of new Coach Jimmy Adams, will be looking for a vastly improved display this time around.
Team News: Kent look set to name an unchanged side from the line-up that brushed Northants aside last week. With no fresh injury problems to report, the only main absentees are Azhar Mahmood (on IPL duty) and young duo Daniel Bell-Drummond and Adam Ball who are on their way back from the England Under-19s tour in Australia. Left-arm seam-bowler Ashley Shaw is also unavailable; having undergone an operation on his shin earlier this month.
Kent Cricket Retail Shop:
The Kent Cricket Shop will be open from 9am and has the new range of training kit available to purchase. There will also be a few bargains to be had within the Sale section.
The 2012 Kent Cricket Annual is now in stock for you to buy, priced £10 for non-members. Members please go to the Kent Cricket Shop to collect your Annual (you may be guided to the Meeting Room in the Cowdrey Conference Centre to pick this up).
All cars entering the St Lawrence Ground must do so from the Nackington Road entrance due to on-going construction work on the administration building and for the safety of customers using the Sainsbury’s convenience store.
Food and Beverage:
The Cornwallis Room, located in the Cowdrey Conference Centre is open to both members and non-members, serving a range of food and drink from 9am. The Carvery will be served from 12pm, which is available on a first come first serve basis.
Jonesy's Kitchen, located on the ground floor of the Les Ames Boxes is also open from 9am, serving a range of hot and cold snacks throughout the day and hot meals during the lunch interval. To book a table please telehone Carol on 07887 974304 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.