Match Preview: Northamptonshire v Kent, 12 – 15 April

Tuesday 10th April 2012

Men’s First Team

Match Preview: Northamptonshire v Kent, 12 – 15 April

Northamptonshire v Kent
LV=County Championship Division Two
The County Ground, Northampton
12 – 15 April 2012

Kent’s cricketers travel to the Midlands this week to take on Northamptonshire, looking to build on the confident start they made last week against division two title favourites Yorkshire.

All of the new recruits quickly gelled in the season opener, as Kent dominated at Headingley, but lost overs proved crucial. Batting first, Rob Key’s side declared their first innings on 537 for nine, thanks largely to 97 from the skipper himself and a brutal maiden century from Matt Coles, batting at nine. The blossoming youngster showed a fine range of scoring shots and shared in a Club record ninth-wicket stand of 153 with debutant Mark Davies (58). Davies then impressed with the ball as he helped bowl Yorkshire out for 364. His figures of 3-48, combined with Charlie Shreck’s four wickets, showed evidence of a blossoming new ball partnership as the hosts were forced to follow on at their headquarters.

Rain and a flat pitch ensured Yorkshire were able to bat out the draw at 146-4 but there was still time for Shreck to add two more scalps alongside spin bowler Adam Riley, whose figures of 2-43 proved his worth as an able deputy to England tourist James Tredwell. Despite his side being unable to force the win, it was a more than encouraging start for new coach Jimmy Adams.

Northants, however, suffered a demoralising fourth day defeat at the hands of Derbyshire in their season opener. Chasing an improbable 337, on the final day, the visitors succumbed to the left-arm spin of David Wainwright. The former Yorkshire spinner returned fine figures of 6-33 as Northants were shot out for just 134. Despite that defeat, Kent will be very wary of their latest opponents, having lost twice to them in championship cricket last season.

Firstly, again in mid April, Kent travelled to the County Ground and were blown away by a side captained by former Kent overseas all-rounder Andrew Hall. Firstly, Rob Key’s side were bowled out for 202 before Hall cracked 146 as Northants took the ascendancy – posting 480. Hall was aided by another former St Lawrence favourite as wicketkeeper Niall O’Brien contributed 71. Robert Joseph and Simon Cook shared six wickets for Kent, who then crumbled away in their second innings. Four wickets from Jack Brooks caused panic and the visitors were duly dismissed for 119 with only James Tredwell (35) putting up any fight. The innings and 159-run defeat proved to be the heaviest of a disappointing season for Kent.

Kent put up more of a fight in the reverse fixture, at the St Lawrence Ground, but Northants still claimed a five-wicket win. Half centuries from Key and Martin van Jaarsveld boosted Kent’s first innings but 280 proved to be an underwhelming total as the visitors racked up 493 in reply. Hall was again amongst the runs, scoring a century, as an under strength bowling attack toiled; Riley, on championship debut, bucked the trend – taking four wickets. A belligerent Darren Stevens stole the show in Kent’s second innings as his 137-ball 143, out of a total of 320, ensured Northants had to bat again. His impressive knock contained 16 fours and three sixes. Northants were then given a fright in their pursuit of 108, with Tredwell claiming three quick wickets, but a well crafted knock of 40 from Rob White secured the win.

Kent, however, now look a much different side. Inspired by Adams and boosted by a glut of new signings, including overseas star Brendan Nash, Rob Key’s side will be looking to avenge last season’s losses as they bid for their first win of the new season.

Kent are boosted by the return of premier spinner James Tredwell. The off-break bowler missed the season’s opener at Headingley, due to England commitments in Sri Lanka, but will now come back into the squad travelling to Northants.

The main absentees are Azhar Mahmood (on IPL duty) and young duo Daniel Bell-Drummond and Adam Ball who continue to impress for the England Under-19s in Australia. Seam bowler Ashley Shaw will also face a spell out of the side after undergoing an operation on his shin last week.

The Kent squad for this match has now been announced – click here for details

For the LIVE scorecard please click here

For updates LIVE from the County Ground please follow @northantsccc on twitter

For LIVE commentary from the County Ground please click here