Kent started to build a lead at the back end of Day Two against Surrey in the Specsavers County Championship before bad light stopped play for the second day in a row at the Kia Oval.
In the morning, Surrey had resumed on 244-6, with Ben Foakes (57) and Rikki Clarke (5) the overnight batsmen. Kent took the new ball eight balls later. After Clarke drove Matt Milnes for three fours in four deliveries, the ball was deemed faulty and changed. It was just five balls old.
Foakes was then bowled for 60 by a beautiful delivery from Harry Podmore and swung into middle stump. Clarke soon followed Foakes back into the Pavilion for a lively 27 from the bowling of Milnes, and finally Morkel was bowled shouldering arms to a roaring Milnes in-swinger.
A transgression of the rules was narrowly avoided when Surrey attempted to replace the absent Gareth Batty, who was taken ill overnight, with fellow off-spinner Amar Virdi.
Batty, who had taken no part in the match, had gone down with a “virulent virus” and Surrey obtained permission from Kent who agreed to the hosts to field Virdi, and after consultation with the match’s Cricket Liaison Officer, Steve Davis.
They announced the replacement before the start of play but Davis contacted the England and Wales Cricket Board for a ruling and was told the switch could not be made.
Surrey then announced: “Despite Kent kindly agreeing to allow Amar Virdi to replace Gareth Batty the ECB have since stated that this is outside the competition regulations. Batty remains in the side but is unlikely to play today.”
Virdi was close to coming in to bat as last man when Surrey lost quick wickets. Morkel was ninth out at 271, and for a while the scoreboard announced that Surrey had declared at 271-9 as everyone left the field.
According to ICC regulations a match can lose first-class status if a player is replaced from the starting eleven, unless it’s a case of concussion or involves a player being released from international duty. Batty was therefore declared ‘out’ absent and Surrey ended on 271.
Kent had made a difficult start to their innings when Sean Dickson, left a big inswinger from Sam Curran which came back into him to remove his off-stump. Zak Crawley gave the visitors much-needed momentum after this early setback with a fluent 69 from 105 balls with 13 fours.
Joe Denly is clearly in the mood to retain his Test place for the Ashes series. He followed his recent century against Nottinghamshire at Tunbridge Wells with a battling innings of 88 in five hours and 19 minutes against Surrey’s frustrated bowling attack before finally falling to Morne Morkel with the first delivery of the new ball.
He and Daniel Bell-Drummond gave Kent the edge with a third-wicket partnership of 110 in 34 overs.
Bell-Drummond, on 17, had his helmet broken by a nasty, rearing delivery from Morkel. Despite being checked over after being hit on the helmet, he went on to play some elegant shots, reaching fifty runs from 83 balls with six fours; before succumbing to Jordan Clark ‘leg-before’ for 64.
Denly and new partner Heino Kuhn, who made an aggressive 50 not out at stumps, added a brisk 72 together before Denly’s demise to Morkel. At the close of play on Day Two Kent were 285-4, a lead of 14. Ollie Robinson, the new man in, on one not out.
Credit: ECB Reporters’ Network