Match Preview: Hampshire v Kent LV= CC, 5- 8 June

Tuesday 4th June 2013

Men’s First Team

Match Preview: Hampshire v Kent LV= CC, 5- 8 June

Match Preview
Hampshire v Kent
LV= CC Division Two

Kent team for the match: Rob Key, Sam Northeast, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Brendan Nash, Ben Harmison, Darren Stevens, Geraint Jones (wk, cap), Matt Coles, Calum Haggett, Charlie Shreck & Adam Riley.

5 – 8 June 2013

After recording a win, a draw and a defeat at the recent Tunbridge Wells Cricket Festival, Kent’s cricketers are on the road in Southampton for their latest outing as they go in search of their first LV= County Championship victory of the season against Hampshire.

The season so far:

Kent are currently bottom of the table, having taken 40 points from their six LV= County Championship matches to date. However, with more playing time, the Club could have recorded a victory over Leicestershire, as Rob Key and Brendan Nash both hit centuries in the draw at the Nevill Ground.

Previous meetings:

Both Championship matches, between the two sides, ended in draws last season although Kent will count themselves most unlucky not to have won the game at the Rose Bowl.

In the fixture between Kent and Hampshire at the Nevill Ground, in June, rain prevented a full four-day’s play. Batting first, Hampshire scored 303 for eight with Liam Dawson finishing undefeated on 134. He shared in a stand of 99 with the Australian, Simon Katich, who made 54. Mark Davies, Charlie Shreck and Matt Coles all took three wickets each for Kent.

The home county then forfeited their first innings and Hampshire did likewise in their second knock to set Kent a victory target of 304. Opener Sam Northeast led from the front with 79, Rob Key hit 35 and Darren Stevens weighed in with 28 but the visitors took wickets at regular intervals, to stifle Kent’s progress, as Mike Powell and Geraint Jones eventually played out for the draw.

Then, in the reverse fixture at the end of July, an agonising last-wicket stand, spanning 20 overs, between Hampshire captain Jimmy Adams and number 11 Danny Briggs deprived Kent a deserved victory on the South Coast.

The visitors looked on course to seal a crucial division two win when three wickets from off-spinner James Tredwell reduced the hosts to 144 for nine, in their bid to bat out the final day. However Adams was at his obdurate best, hanging around for 255 balls – scoring 85 in the process, as he saw his side through to safety. The role of Briggs cannot be underestimated either – with the spin specialist keeping out 57 balls as Kent were left frustrated.

Adams was a thorn in the first-innings too as his 91 saw Hampshire up to 292 all-out. Opening bowlers Mark Davies and Charlie Shreck shared six wickets to apply the pressure but Adams, in tandem with Liam Dawson (51), added 116 for the fourth-wicket to see the home county up to a solid first-innings total.

Kent’s reply was powered by a mammoth opening stand of 252 between Sam Northeast and Rob Key. Northeast showed he was in prime form, cruising to his second consecutive Championship century, before he was finally caught behind for 140. Key crafted his first ton of the season to help put Kent in firm control. Hampshire fought back with three James Tomlinson wickets as 252 for no wicket soon became 291-5 but some lower order hitting from Darren Stevens (40), Geraint Jones (36), James Tredwell (31) and Matt Coles (29) saw the county take a commanding first innings lead of 175. The final two Kent wickets fell on the final morning after 62 overs were lost to rain on day three. Those overs proved crucial, in the end, as Kent had to make do with ten points from a game they really should have won.

Of the 203 matches played between the two counties, Kent have the superior record with 85 wins. This is the eighth meeting between the two sides at the Ageas Bowl, with Kent having recorded just the one win.

Click here for Hampshire v Kent at the Rose Bowl, the history, kindly compiled by Martin Moseling

Players to watch:

After hitting a personal one-day best of 144 against the Netherlands, former captain Rob Key followed it up with 106 against Leicestershire – his 48th first-class hundred – as he shared an unbroken second-wicket partnership of 144 with Brendan Nash in Kent’s second knock.

South African batsman Neil McKenzie is set to return to the Hampshire team for this fixture. The 37 year-old arrives from South Africa to begin a fourth season, at the Ageas Bowl, as a non-overseas player. McKenzie has been playing for the Highveld Lions and helped them win the domestic T20 title in his country of birth.

Pre-match chat

Skipper Geraint Jones – filling in for James Tredwell, away on England duty – is looking forward to facing Hampshire, with matches between the two sides being keenly contested in recent times: “We generally play pretty well against Hampshire and matches tend to be quite tight. We had them nine wickets down last year (at Southampton) but they managed to hold out. I guess we are two fairly evenly matched sides. They try to play youngsters and we’ve got some younger guys in our team too. Still, we can certainly take some confidence from our last couple of outings and hopefully push for our first win of the year in the LV= County Championship.”

Kent have recorded only the one win at the Ageas Bowl but it gives the players the opportunity to play at a Test venue. As an England international, Jones says he always enjoys turning out at international arenas: “I guess it’s always good to go to the bigger grounds; the only shame is that county matches don’t really fill them up. I was watching highlights of the one-dayer between England and New Zealand on Sunday night and the ground looked a picture. It was a belting wicket and the outfield looked good so I hope it’s the same for us when play gets underway on Wednesday.”

Kent go into the game on the back of a good performance against Leicestershire in the Championship. Once again, rain prevented a full four days’ play and Jones felt the weather worked against them: “We felt we did everything we could in the limited time available. There were plenty of positives. Darren Stevens has come into form with bat and ball, Rob Key is batting well and so too is Nashy (Brendan Nash). In fairness, the batting unit have shown some good form in recent matches. Credit must also go to the bowlers as they’ve been doing it all summer. In the last two or three weeks, we have made some good strides forward and our performances have reflected that.”

With more than a third of Kent’s Championship matches played, Jones is conscious that the season is now well underway: “We are a good few games into it now and if we are going to push for promotion, which is what we all want, then we need to start winning. Many of the other teams have got off to flying starts and this is what we now need to produce. We need to start pushing for wins from every available situation.”

With Tredwell away on international duty, Jones is getting a run in charge of the team but he says they are both working closely: “Tredy and I keep in regular contact. My role is to support him, while he is away with England. All selection and team decisions are made by Tredy and Jimmy (Adams). Tredy is still very much the leader. I’m in charge of the team during matches but he is still making the decisions with Jimmy.”