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Match Preview: Oxford MCCU v Kent, 2 – 4 May

Oxford MCCU v Kent

MCCU County Fixture, The Parks, Oxford, 2 – 4 May 2012

Kent take a break from championship cricket in good health, sitting pretty at the top of division two, in the LV=CC standings, after their unbeaten start to the season.

Tomorrow, Jimmy Adams’ men travel to the heart of the country to take on Oxford MCCU in a three-day university fixture at the Parks.

A much changed squad is expected with Alex Blake, Adam Ball, Simon Cook and Daniel Bell-Drummond all looking to make their first appearances of the season, while first-year professional Fabian Cowdrey could makehis Kent first-team debut.

The county maintained its unbeaten start to the season at Canterbury last week when they dominated the much-fancied Yorkshire for two days – before rain ruined any victory ambitions. On day one, the home side’s bowling attack bowled superbly as a unit, once again, to dismiss the Tykes for 247. Matt Coles celebrated a call-up to the England Lions squad by claiming four more scalps to make him the leading wicket-taker in the country and he was ably supported by Charlie Shreck and Darren Stevens, who snared two wickets apiece. All of Yorkshire’s top eight made it into double figures, but none of them made a significant contribution in tough batting conditions – Gary Ballance top-scored with just 38.

In reply, the hosts were reduced to 158 for five to leave the game teetering in the balance before West Indian overseas star Brendan Nash, together with stand-in captain Geraint Jones, took control of proceedings. The duo added a sprightly 77 for the sixth wicket with Jones the aggressor, striking nine boundaries in a 49-ball 47. Nash was a little more sedate but again he found valuable lower-order support, this time from number eight James Tredwell. The pair took the game away from the visitors during their partnership of 98. Left-hander Nash went on to his maiden century for the county, late on day two, and finished on a fine unbeaten knock of 132, which included 14 fours. Tredwell proved his all-round worth scoring 37. Less than ten overs were sent down on day three before rain put pay to any more cricket in the match. Kent finished on 350 for nine, adding another batting bonus point late in the day, which was a fine effort against a bowling attack that included no less than four bowlers that have represented England. One of them, current star Tim Bresnan, returned 3-89.

Kent lead Derbyshire by four points in division two, having played a game more. Their 49 points, gathered from one win and three draws, have been boosted by 24 bonus points – the highest in the division.

Oxford MCCU have taken on county opposition twice already this year and are still searching for their first win. Back in late March they succumbed to a heavy 253-run defeat at the hands of Glamorgan, but fought back well to hold Worcestershire at the Parks last month. Kent's first-year professional Ben Kemp played for the students in that fixture and took 1-71 in the Pears first innings total of 464-7. Oxford showed their batting talents by responding with 435 all-out to ensure a draw.

The last time the two sides met was back in 2004 but heavy rain meant only two overs were bowled in the whole game with Kent finishing on 9-1 after Joe Denly was bowled for a second ball duck. Wicketkeeper Jones and off-spinner James Tredwell are the only current squad members that were selected for that fixture.

Squad information will be available on the Kent Cricket website shortly.

Photo Sarah Ansell SarahCanterbury.com