Darren Stevens starred with the ball as Kent took a giant leap toward a return to the top tier of the Specsavers County Championship by wrapping up an innings and 172-run win over Glamorgan with five sessions to spare at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence on Thursday.
Kent’s 10th win of the campaign – their first with maximum points – was also Glamorgan’s 10th defeat and although Kent will have to wait on events at Hove in the game between Sussex and Warwickshire to know their promotion status, the reverse ensures that the Welsh county will collect this season’s wooden spoon.
Glamorgan lost their last six wickets inside 75 minutes of the third day as Stevens, so often their nemesis, took five for 24 to secure the 21st five-wicket return of his career.
Matt Henry, the undoubted signing of the season in Division 2, chipped in with another four and eight in the match as Kent banked 24 points to Glamorgan’s three.
Glamorgan suffered their first loss to the ninth ball of the morning and the third of the day from Stevens.
A good length away-swinger that cut away further off the pitch, drew Jeremy Lawlor into an injudicious defensive push outside off stump that the right-hander feathered through to keeper Sam Billings.
Ten balls and six runs later, Chris Cooke departed in near identical fashion by meddling with a Stevens leg-cutter that brushed the outside edge to give Billings another catch.
Henry then added to his tally as the championship’s leading wicket-taker with a full-length leg cutter that squared up the right-hander is defence to pluck out his off stump and make it 45 for seven.
Still within the opening hour, Ruaidhri Smith nudged outside off to be superbly caught by Billings, diving low to his right in front of first slip off Henry, who then took his 74th victim of a prolific summer by ripping out Timm van der Gugten’s off pole.
It was left to Stevens to polish the job off by 11.45am when last man Michael Hogan, the Glamorgan captain, sliced an attempted cover drive to be athletically caught at extra cover by Joe Denly, leaving the tenacious Jack Murphy unbeaten on 22.
Stevens finished with five and Henry four as Kent moved to the cusp of returning to the Championship top flight after eight seasons in Division 2.