A superb century from Alex Blake and four wickets from Marcus O’Riordan bought the Second XI Trophy back to Kent for the first time in over 16 years.
On a sunny Summer’s day at The County Ground, Beckenham, Durham Second XI put Kent into bat first after winning the toss in the Second XI Trophy Final.
Kent openers Calum Haggett and Jordan Cox got Kent off to a good start in Metropolitan Kent; Haggett repeatedly found the middle of the bat and raced to a good early score, even after Cox was dismissed for only 11 runs, caught behind, despite having averaged over 115.00 in the rest of the tournament.
Taunton-born Haggett eventually fell for a well-made 40 from 37 balls, including four fours and a six, bringing Alex Blake, fresh from scoring 139 in the semi-final away at Yorkshire out into the middle.
Continuing his great recent form, Blake soon got to work against Durham’s bowling attack, building a partnership of 44 with Sam Burgess (29), racing past his half-century from 53 balls with five fours and two sixes.
After Burgess’ wicket fell, caught in the deep from the bowling of Ryan Pringle, Kent Second XI skipper Adam Rouse picked up where Burgess left off.
Rouse and Blake soon got to work, keeping their partnership near a run-a-ball and putting on 67 together as Blake kept his momentum going towards another century in as many Trophy matches.
After slog sweeping a Scott Steel off-spin delivery, Rouse knew he had holed out before the catch was taken by George Harding and was visibly annoyed with himself but his score of 32 from 34 balls kept Kent’s innings ticking along.
Alex Blake reached his century from 99 balls in typical aggressive style, with a flurry of boundaries taking him to three figures. On 110, a shot flicked into the air and to the leg side, Blake was caught by Steel and left the field to rapturous applause from appreciative Kent supporters inside The County Ground.
Kent’s tail could not match the strength of the top order and five wickets fell for just fifteen runs as Kent Second XI posted a score of 276.
In reply, Durham Second XI got off to a flying start much like their Kentish opponents, Pringle and Michael Jones putting on 36 together before Ari Karvelas struck, Pringle skying one to Fred Klaassen at long off and departing for 22.
Jones and new partner Michael Richardson looked to keep Durham’s aggressive start going but good first spells from Imran Qayyum and Will MacVicar helped curtail the visitors’ run rate going into the second third of their innings.
When Marcus O’Riordan was bought onto bowl in the 28th over, he struck with his third ball. Cox showed good quick hands behind the stumps dismissing Jones for a methodically-earned 60 from 80 balls.
He struck again on the first ball of his second over, combining with Cox again to dismiss Richardson (49) caught behind.
The off-spinner and Jarred Lysaught’s right-arm medium pace put the squeeze on Durham’s run rate, and with ten overs left in the match, Durham were 177/3 needing 100 runs to win.
O’Riordan got his third wicket in the match as Steel looked to sweep him and was trapped LBW with eight and a half overs to go, as the pressure grew on Durham.
Cox’s nimble hands behind the stumps again led to the downfall of a Durham batsman as Solomon Bell was stumped for 30 charging down the wicket as Durham kept trying to see off their final overs, O’Riordan finished with figures of 10-1-43-4.
As the required rate moved to over ten an over, Durham could not keep up with the pace and wickets quickly fell before Kent sealed victory and the Second XI Trophy in a memorable victory for the Spitfires seconds.
Kent Cricket’s 2019 President Chris Swadkin presented victorious captain Adam Rouse and the rest of the Kent Second XI side with the Second XI Trophy in front of the Pavilion at Beckenham.