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CB40 Match Preview: Kent Spitfires v Derbyshire Falcons, Sunday 12th Aug

Saturday 11th August 2012

Men’s First Team

Kent Spitfires v Derbyshire Falcons, CB40 – Group C

St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury, Sunday, 12th August 2012 – 1.45pm

The 161st Canterbury Festival Week draws to a close on Sunday with some high-paced CB40 action as the Kent Spitfires welcome the Derbyshire Falcons to the St Lawrence Ground, for another crucial Group C encounter.

Kent remain firmly in the hunt to seal a semi-final berth and a victory over Derbyshire will keep their qualification dreams alive. They currently sit in fourth position, on nine points, but they have games in hand on the teams above them, including the Falcons – who sit third, having taken ten points from ten games. The top team qualifies automatically for the final four but a best runner-up place is also up for grabs. A win on Sunday for Rob Key’s men will keep the pressure on at the top as Festival Week is destined for an entertaining crescendo.

The Club’s Chief Executive Officer, Jamie Clifford, has called for fans to get behind the players; "We are all looking forward to a bumper crowd and are pleased to be able to offer free entry for children. On the pitch, there is everything to play for as the squad aim to end the season with a Lord's final. In addition to the cricket, there will be lots to do on our family day so we hope as many people as possible will be able to come and join us."

The weather certainly looks much better, compared to the last time the two sides met, last month, when Kent cruised to a rain affected nine-wicket victory at Derby. The visitors were already on top when the rain arrived as Darren Stevens (2-3) helped decimate the Falcons’ top-order. After a prolonged rain delay, the hosts turned 46 for four into 62 for five, from 14 overs, to set Kent a revised victory target of 67. Despite the loss of captain Key for a quickfire 17, Sam Billings (28) and Sam Northeast (22) shared an unbeaten stand of 29 to see the Spitfires through to victory – with 19 balls to spare.

Last season, when the Falcons came to town for a CB40 clash, they flew away with a three wicket victory as they, alongside Kent, failed to qualify from Group A.

The match was a close-fought battle but, ultimately, the home side failed to post a match-winning total – despite more impressive runs from Azhar Mahmood. The veteran all-rounder posted his second half-century of the season’s competition – hitting 68, from 93 balls. He found support in the form of Joe Denly (35) and Geraint Jones (34) but the visitors remained in control throughout as Tony Palladino’s 4-32 helped restrict the Spitfires to 208 for nine.

Derbyshire timed their run-chase to perfection as they secured a three-wicket win in the final over. Captain Wayne Madsen led the way with 64 and Ross Whiteley chipped in with an entertaining 40 as the Falcons stayed cool, amidst a fine spell from Kent off-spinner James Tredwell (2-35). Just as Whiteley looked as though he would see the side from the east Midlands home, the left-hander was dismissed by Matt Coles in the penultimate over but, by then, the damage was done as Peter Burgoyne hit the winning runs, off Mahmood, in the final over.

The win meant that Derbyshire finished third in Group A, one place above the Spitfires whose early competition inconsistencies cost them a place in the semi-finals.

For Kent, Billings and Northeast will be looking to continue their impressive form in 40-over cricket on Sunday. Opener Billings has looked in prime form at the top of the order, posting 128 runs at an average of 64 while Northeast continues to impress in limited overs cricket – scoring 94 runs at an average of 47. With the ball, Matt Coles continues to lead the way. His 11 wickets have come at an average of 14.36 – a haul that was boosted by career best figures of 6-32 against Yorkshire in the season opener. England’s James Tredwell follows with eight scalps to his name.

Sunday’s opponents also have men in form coming into the game. Wes Durston has been on fire in this competition, smashing 273 runs at an average of 34.12. Also breaking the 200 run barrier is Martin Guptill (217 at 72.33), but the New Zealander has since been replaced by Aussie Usman Khawaja as the Falcons overseas star. Derbyshire also have two men bang in form with the ball. Quick bowler Mark Turner has impressed many with his speed, claiming 15 wickets, and seamer Tim Groenewald is just one behind with the South African enjoying a fine season in all forms of the game.

Sunday is the final chance to enjoy the 161st Canterbury Cricket Week, and with conditions looking perfect for playing and watching alike, the scene is set for an entertaining end to the week. There will be a range of activities for all the family and free entry for children 16 and under.

Team news to follow.