Kent finally got their season going at the third attempt and in quite some style at home to Glamorgan. After the Worcestershire water-table fiasco in the sunshine and the snowy draw at Leicester it was a relief just to see a match able to be played out to its natural conclusion.
It would be fair to say most Kent fans were pretty disgruntled about what happened in Worcester given the lack of a plan B by a club with a venue prone to serious flooding almost annually (Kidderminster ruled out now, an alternative in Worcester not ready).
Questions were also asked of the fixture list compliers – why give Worcestershire a home game first up when Kent started with two away and a blank week?
The fact that Kent’s official complaint was then airily wafted away by the powers that be was made abundantly clear during the lunchtime club forum. It was ever thus.
The fact that the season started so early was illustrated by the fact that snow stopped play at Leicestershire and other fixtures in that round of games, a freak occurrence that garnered a few national headlines.
Assuming a Canterbury Cricket Week of sorts survives the cull, then it still looks bleak for those wishing to watch four-day cricket in high summer! The reaction to this news at the otherwise rather jovial forum from the Members was frosty to say the least…
Thankfully the action on the pitch at The Spitfire Ground St Lawrence was far more encouraging. Kent managed to win their first game at HQ since beating Derbyshire by ten wickets on the 24th of June 2014!
Since then the only home win had come at Tunbridge Wells against Essex in 2015. The run at Canterbury of five draws and four defeats had not gone down well with the faithful so this was a welcome bonus so early in the campaign.
It was certainly an eventful game, Day One saw Kent enjoy a perfect start, reducing Glamorgan to 124-6. In previous seasons the wicket has tended to flatten out and knocking over the tail has become a bit of an issue but this time they stuck gamely to their task to knock the Welsh team over for 260.
Coles bowled well until he appeared to injure his foot and limped out of action. Given his importance to the bowling attack this caused no little panic but he returned to bowl eventually in the second innings.
The most notable contribution though came from Claydon (4-59), whatever he did during the winter worked, he appeared a yard and a half quicker and bowled with genuine pace and hostility. He beat the bat along with Coles on numerous occasions on a wicket that looked livelier than usual.
It was pretty ideal really, both sides rattled along at more than four an over and yet there was something in it if you bowled well. The only fly in the ointment really was the fact Kent shelled four very catchable catches in the first innings and a fifth in the second.
Kent responded with a lovely first wicket partnership of 131 between new signing Latham and the in-form Bell-Drummond. In a proper team effort Kent amassed 488 on a chilly second day with five 50’s but no 100’s.
With the crowd muffled in fleeces, scarfs and thankful of the floodlighting in bad light on Day 2, it was the pace of scoring that helped warm the appreciative crowd.
The “Nackington Road Grumblers” were in fine early season form, with gallows humour, fiendish cricket quizzes, speculation about forthcoming football play-offs and some delightfully surreal conversations even Alan Bennett would struggle to pen, peppering a sunny and timeless day at the cricket.
Rouse stood in for Billings and impressed behind the stumps with slick and athletic glove work. Stevens stuck to his task manfully whilst Coles was awaiting scan results on his injury and it all looked like a three-day win at 156-5 but Glamorgan then put together a fine partnership of their own. Lloyd (107) and Wagg (106) put on 215 before they finally subsided for 414, a lead of 187.
The only real concern aside from the dropped slip catches was the form of Riley who endured a forgettable game, it is to be hoped the young spinner can regain his mojo sooner rather than later. The raw debutant Bernard chipped in, but it had been the senior trio of Coles, Stevens and Claydon that set up the win.
The final half day was gloriously sunny and Kent knocked off the runs in style soon after lunch, Bell-Drummond 86* and Latham 79* saw to that and in the process became the first opening partnership to make a hundred in both innings since Fagg and Phebey in 1954… not a bad start then for Mr. Latham who also snaffled a couple of sharp catches.
The final moments weren’t without some confusion though with Kent apparently winning the game, shaking hands and walking off before having to return moments later due to an error by the scorers!
One wag in the Grumblers was quick to claim a second win in one day and ask for 48 points. It might compensate for Worcester…
The win took Kent up to third in the embryonic table, they host Gloucestershire next beginning on Sunday, a repeat performance would be wonderful, particularly with Essex of all people having enjoyed a flying start to the season. Perhaps though Tredwell and either Haggett or Hunn might join the party for that one.