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Billings and Stevens record stand as Kent increase advantage

Thursday 25th August 2016

Men’s First Team

Sam Billings hit a career-best first class score of 171 to put Kent firmly in the driving seat on day three of their Specsavers County Championship game against Gloucestershire at the Brightside Ground, Bristol.

The 25-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman, who scored 175 for the England Lions against Pakistan A at Canterbury in July, batted without equal on day three as Kent tightened their grip on the game.

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Having featured in a stand of 258 for the fifth wicket, with Darren Stevens (140), he also played his part in a 91-run stand for the sixth wicket with Will Gidman (58 not out). Kent eventually declared at tea, on 533 for 6, a first innings lead of 312.

By the close, Gloucestershire were staring down the barrel of defeat on 34 for 4, still needing another 278 runs to make Kent bat again.

Although the bowlers took the plaudits in the final session, it was Billings who stole the show before and after lunch. It was an innings of genuine quality.

On a day when light drizzle and bad light forced the umpires to take the players off on three separate occasions, Billings was outstanding. Resuming on their overnight score of 346 for 4, the visitors progressed at a decent rate in the morning session with Billings following Wednesday's centurion Darren Stevens to three figures, off 128 balls, with 18 fours.

Stevens, who once again looked in imperious touch, eventually departed, for 140, at 399 for 5. The pair added 258 for the fifth wicket – a County Championship record for the fifth wicket for Kent – with Stevens facing 161 balls and hitting 21 fours and two sixes.

Gidman and Billings took up the challenge thereafter with the latter passing 150 off 190 balls before finally falling to a Craig Miles catch off Liam Norwell.

It was an innings full of enjoyment for those on the Kent balcony and one that allowed Gidman and James Tredwell (22 not out) to swing the bat late on in the innings and take Kent into a winning position.

When Gloucestershire took to the crease, it was an altogether different story. And once again, it was that man Stevens who did the damage. Having taken 2 for 30 in the first innings, he sent back Chris Dent for 1, at 5 for 1, and then bowled Will Tavare for a nine-ball duck. In between Hardus Viljoen, who helped himself to five first innings wickets on Tuesday, had Gareth Roderick caught by Tredwell for 8.

It was left to Michael Klinger and Hamish Marshall to rescue Gloucestershire from what appeared to be an impossible position. The fourth wicket pair put on 21 before Stevens found the outside edge of Klinger's bat and gave Matt Coles a catch that he gratefully accepted, at first slip.

When Marshall and Phil Mustard were offered the light by the umpires, shortly after Klinger's departure, they took it with Gloucestershire 34 for 4 and still a long way behind.

Scorecard

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