Key enjoys “a bit of a slog” to post a magnificent 261

Sunday 16th May 2010

Rob Key batted for six fours to score 170 alonein boundaries

Kent v Durham LV= County Championship Division 1, Day One at Canterbury.
By Mark Pennell
Kent captain Rob Key featured in two century stands and hit a magnificent 261 in a shade over six hours to help Kent to a season“s best first innings County Championship total at Canterbury of 424 all out.
The former England batsman hit 38 fours and three sixes in his superb 270-ball stay and was Kent“s last man out in the final over of the day when only 10 short of a personal best and 15 shy of breaking Matthew Walker“s ground record score by a Kent batsman.
Speaking afterwards Key said: “It was good fun and a long time due. After the poor start I“ve had to the season I probably owe the team some runs and it“s nice to get a decent score under my belt.
“At 10 for two I“d have taken 424 all out for sure because it“s been really tough going for us at the start to the year. There“s been a lot of championship cricket played at the start of the season on hard, tricky pitches and it was nice to get through the new ball for once.
“I“ve felt in pretty decent touch all along but it just hasn“t worked out until today, so it was nice to make hay once the sun came out.”
Key added: “When it got down to our tail versus the new ball I just wanted to get as many on the board as I could and it was a great effort by Ferls (Rob Ferley) and Amjad to help me put on another hundred or so. I wanted to get the full amount of batting points because it felt a decent pitch.
“So even at 350 for eight I“d have taken 424. It was pleasing, but I was lucky not to have to face much of Harmy (Steve Harmison) with the new ball, that was well engineered in my part. Then, at the end, it was just nice to have a bit of a slog; you rarely get that chance as an opener so it was fun to have a hack.”
Having seen the side slip to 10 for two, Key joined forces with Martin van Jaarsveld (30) to add 117 in 25 overs then, after the loss of his vice-captain and Sam Northeast (4) in the space of four overs, Key teamed up with Azhar Mahmood (43) to post 106 for the fifth wicket.Bowling from the Pavilion End, Steve Harmison shaped his sixth ball of the day away from Joe Denly (0) who tried to withdraw the bat at the last moment only to nick behind Phil Mustard.
In Harmison“s next over Geraint Jones, having clipped a brace of threes through the leg side to move to nine, fenced at a lifting ball from Harmison that might well have been left alone only to steer to Michael Di Venuto at second slip.
Van Jaarsveld and Key counter-attacked to take the hosts to 120 for two when rain led to an early lunch, Key having moved to his maiden 50 of the championship campaign inside 87 minutes with a guided four to third man off Ben Harmison for the 10th boundary of his positive 61-ball stay.
Five overs after the interval van Jaarsveld became Harmison“s third victim when his leaden-footed drive flew to slip where Dale Benkenstein took the chance in his right-hand at the second attempt.
Northeast nicked another Harmison belter to Mustard soon after and at 141 for four Kent were again in serious danger of underachieving in their first innings despite Key“s eye-catching 105-ball century with 18 fours.
Thankfully, he found a willing ally in Azhar Mahmood who collected five fours in a cameo 65-ball stay as he and Key added 106 in 23 overs.
They were only two short of equalling Kent“s fifth-wicket record against Durham when Azhar Mahmood pushed at one from Benkenstein to be caught at slip by Di Venuto.
After tea Key received vital support from Alex Blake (31), Amjad Khan (10) and Rob Ferley (19) that helped Kent to a fifth batting bonus point before Key became last man out to the final over of the day.
Moving across his stumps when aiming to flick through fine leg, he had his leg stump pegged back by Ben Harmison and left to a standing ovation.