If Tunbridge Wells Cricket Festival 2016 was memorable for the blazing sunshine throughout the Sussex game (rather than the more usual apocalyptical rain), the really significant result was the 8 wicket win over Surrey in front of a sell-out crowd on the Friday evening.
Arguably it was Kent Spitfires' most impressive performance of the entire campaign, Roy’s initial pyrotechnics for the mob from the Oval threatened to take the game away, (52 off 29 balls) but having look set for 220 plus his wicket took the momentum away and their ultimate total of 180 looked a little short.
It proved to be as Kent got home with just two balls to spare, on paper it looked a little too close for comfort but in reality Kent timed their response to perfection and the unbeaten 112 by Bell-Drummond was a thing of true elegant beauty. If he’s not careful elevation from the England Lions to a first outing for the senior XI might be on the cards!
Northeast ably assisted him with 57 which illustrated his own fine form. 191 & 70* vs Derbyshire, 166* vs Essex and then 190 vs Sussex has seen him fulfill the undoubted potential with incredible consistency. Another young(ish) English talent made in Kent…
Vctory over Surrey set up a mouthwatering final two games in the T20. Kent fans like nothing more than going toe to toe with Surrey and a quirk in the fixture list means if they can beat Surrey at the Oval they might sneak through into the last eight of the competition despite their poor net run rate.
After beginning the campaign with a fine win over Somerset, Kent appeared to be out of contention with a sorry run of five defeats in six left them languishing in eighth spot, I even felt able to book train tickets to Scunthorpe to watch the mighty Gills on the scheduled Finals Day at Edgbaston in August but a win over Sussex stopped the rot.
A comprehensive loss at Chelmsford looked to have ended any hopes of progression but then three straight wins at Taunton and Bristol before Tunbridge Wells has left it all up for grabs.
Unfortunately, the Championship game against Sussex petered out into a draw, an eighth in eleven games and with those teams around them vying for the only promotion spot with games in hand Kent need to start winning games pronto.
If the final day was an anticlimax it has to be said the first couple of days were thoroughly enjoyable for the Kent fans in attendance provided they could find a spot of shade or an ice cold drink.
The whole scene could have been timeless, the classical view of players in whites toiling in the sunshine, the clink of glasses in the tents, the ice-cream van doing a roaring trade, umbrellas used as parasols, the archetypal English fantasy of yore.
Add to that the stunning views of the Garden of England on offer from the train between Ashford and Tonbridge, the pre-match coffee shops and end of play pints down in the Pantiles and you could have captured summer perfection if Cricket Festivals are your thing.
The fact that next season Kent will have only one home Championship game scheduled in July and August (Canterbury Week) means Tunbridge Wells will have to move back to June and might miss out on a T20 game due to the scheduling in “blocks”.