Match Preview: Kent v Northamptonshire LV=CC, 1 – 4 May

Tuesday 30th April 2013

Men’s First Team

Kent v Northamptonshire

LV= County Championship Division Two

1 May – 4 May 2013, 11am start.

St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury

The St Lawrence Ground stages its first game of the 2013 season as Kent welcome in-form Northamptonshire to Canterbury.

The season so far:

Under the leadership of new captain James Tredwell, Kent have started the campaign with two rain-affected draws. After a Rob Key century at Grace Road ensured a share of the points against Leicestershire, Tredwell’s men then forced a draw against Lancashire at Old Trafford. The visitors were bowled out for 244 in their first innings with Mike Powell and Brendan Nash recording half-centuries, before the Red Rose county took control.

Australian Simon Katich posted 93 with Karl Brown, Ashwell Prince and Steven Croft also passing the half-century mark as the hosts declared on 395 for seven to take a healthy lead into the final day. However, Nash, Kent’s new number three, continued his sparkling early season form to force a comfortable draw. The left-hander followed up three half-centuries with a fluent, unbeaten hundred – off 141-balls – to see the visitors to safety at 178 for two. Powell also completed a decent showing, scoring an unbeaten 39, as the duo posted 142 for the third wicket.

Despite a first game draw, Northants have romped to the top of the second division table after brushing aside Essex by an innings and nine runs and Gloucestershire by seven wickets in their last outing. Against the side from the west-country, Stephen Peters’ men were ruthless thanks largely to pacemen David Willey and Steven Crook.

Left-armer Willey returned 4-71 on the opening day to help dismiss Gloucestershire for 192 at Bristol. In reply Alex Wakely (88) and James Middlebrook (62) built a strong foundation before Crook (53) joined Australian number eleven Trent Copeland (27*) to take the visitors up to 404 all-out.

Crook then excelled with the ball, taking 4-48, as the hosts could only set Northants a modest victory target of 88, which they duly reached with the minimal of fuss.

The midlands outfit top division two with 55 points, twenty ahead of second-placed Hampshire having played a game more. Kent sit in sixth place, having taken 14 points from their two outings.

Previous meetings:

In the corresponding fixture last season the two sides played out a draw on a flat St Lawrence surface. The visitors batted first and veteran David Sales made hay. The right-hander crafted 140 off 241 balls as Northants, led by former Kent-man Andrew Hall, meandered to 418 off 144 overs. Rain broke up Kent’s reply as they declared on 280 for six, after Powell and Darren Stevens both ground out fifties on a slow track.

The two captains then attempted to manufacture a last day run chase but after Northants declared their second innings on 123 for no wicket, the home side decided against chasing a risky 262 off sixty overs as the game petered out to a draw.

Click here for the full Kent v Northants at Canterbury Match History, kindly provided by Martin Moseling

Players to watch:

West Indian Brendan Nash has been in fine form for Kent so far this season. After three half-centuries, the 35 year-old reached three figures in the second innings against Lancashire to make it 262 runs for the season at an impressive average of 87.33. He currently tops the division two run-scoring charts; the move to number three certainly looks to have suited the left-hander nicely.

Topping the Northants batting averages is, surprisingly, their number ten Steven Crook. The former Middlesex bowling all-rounder scored an unbeaten 88 against Essex to help them to victory and currently averages 74.50. Even more impressively he has taken 18 wickets from three games at an average of just over 13. His bowling partnership with David Willey (16 scalps) has been the catalyst for Northants’ highly productive start.

Pre-match chat

Kent’s bowlers have endured a tough start to the season on two batter friendly wickets, at Grace Road and Old Trafford, but they have stuck to their guns. Seamer Mark Davies believes the challenges have left them in good stead for the upcoming battle with high-flying Northants.

“It's been a tough start. We've played on two very good pitches (at Leicester and Lancashire) and both were tough to get results on. I think we can take a lot from playing against a very good side in our last outing. We quite easily matched Lancashire and played well. I feel that we have gradually improved as play has gone on in both games. It was a brilliant knock from Nashy and we are improving game by game. We had a tough pre-season with the poor weather. We didn't go away and got stuck indoors. It wasn't ideal preparation and we were slow out of the blocks but we are now improving day-by-day.”

Davies, who enjoyed a fine first season at Canterbury after making the move south from Durham, is clearly looking forward to making a first appearance of the season at the St Lawrence Ground.

“It's our first home game and it will be tough against Northants because they're flying. Still, hopefully we can put on a show and get a win. We enjoy playing on our home ground. Hopefully it will give us all a lift and we can get some more points on the board. They've (Northants) played really well so far and look in good shape. I'm sure they've been playing on result pitches but we need to take on board that it will be another tough game.”

Kent’s new-ball bowler has only taken two wickets so far this term, after winning the bowler of the season award in his first year with the county. However, he is confident of recapturing his form of 2012 and was also quick to praise the performances of their run-machine Nash.

“I've been disappointed not to pick up that many wickets but I keep working hard. You get those days where you don't pick up as many wickets as you would like. I feel I've bowled pretty well and if I keep it up then I'm sure I've got a good chance of getting amongst the wickets.

“He (Nash) has got a fantastic work ethic and is brilliant for us. He works very hard so it's good to see him getting the rewards. To have someone of his quality in the side is a great confidence booster for us all.”

Team News:

Kent have named a twelve man squad for this match:

Tredwell (C), Key, Northeast, Nash, Powell, Jones (WK), Bell-Drummond, Coles, Shreck, Davies, Haggett, Blake

Darren Stevens will miss this match due to a knee injury.