Billings stars in Kent victory

Sunday 12th August 2012

Men’s First Team

Billings stars in Kent victory

Sam Billings hit the highest ever one-day total by a Kent player at Canterbury and Darren Stevens snared five wickets in 19 balls to ease the Spitfires to an emphatic 111-run win over Derbyshire.

In front of their second best crowd of the summer, Kent wrapped up their 161st Canterbury Week with their fourth win of the Group C campaign secured with 56 balls to spare.

Billings' innings of 143 helped Kent on their way to a score of 248 for six, before Stevens took centre stage with the ball to help bowl out Derbyshire for 137.

Batting first after losing the toss, Kent suffered two early blows on possibly the hottest day of the season at the St Lawrence ground.

Home skipper Rob Key fell for a five-ball duck when he pushed tentatively at a Tim Groenewald leg-cutter to snick one low to Wes Durston at slip.

Then, having faced only three balls, Sam Northeast also went without scoring when he departed leg before after playing across a full-length ball from Mark Turner that made it 16 for two.

The situation might have worsened had keeper Tom Poynton held on to a diving, one-glove chance to his left from Stevens' first-ball glance, but Poynton could only parry the chance for four to allow the Kent right-hander to get off the mark.

Stevens helped steady the Kentish ship with Billings in a third-wicket stand of 85 in 15.3 overs that ended when Stevens dragged one on to leg stump against Chesney Hughes to go for 40 and spark a secondary mini-collapse.

Azhar Mahmood hit eight before he holed out against Peter Burgoyne then Alex Blake, with three to his name, nicked a drive to the keeper off the same bowler to leave Kent in trouble at 123 for five.

That was the cue for 21-year-old Billings to move into top gear. The Pembury-born right-hander eased to his 50 from 46 balls then cut loose with an array of shots, the majority of which were orthodox, yet some were impish and improvised in the fashion of another wiry Kent gloveman, the legendary Alan Knott.

Sweeping wristily, driving on the up and chipping the ball to all parts, Billings reached his first century for Kent, off a misfield to backward point, from 97 balls and with 11 fours.

He really cut loose when in tandem with Geraint Jones as the two wicketkeepers added 117 in 14.1 overs.

Billings was so dominant that his senior partner Jones contributed only 38 to their hundred stand.

With 143 to his name come the final over of the innings, Billings went all guns blazing for his 150 but missed out with an attemptedscoop over fine leg to be bowled. He left to a standing ovation after 113 balls and with 17 fours and a six.

Needing 6.22 an over for an unlikely win, Derbyshire were already up against it after a tight opening spell from Mark Davies of three for 25.

Any lingering hopes were completely blown away when Darren Stevens replaced Davis at the Nackington Road End to bag five for 36 – including a 19-ball purple patch of five for seven that eased Kent to victory.

Photo: Sarah Ansell