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Match Preview: Unicorns v Kent Spitfires, CB40, Tuesday 5th June

Friday 1st June 2012

Men’s First Team

Unicorns v Kent Spitfires, CB40 – Group C

Southend, Tuesday, 5 June 2012 – 1.45pm start

With qualification from CB40 Group C a top aim for Kent this season, the Spitfires’ short trip to Southend on Tuesday is a crucial game for Rob Key’s men.

Their opponents, the Unicorns, are an ECB Recreational XI and claimed a surprise scalp at Canterbury last month. A below-par Kent display was pounced upon by the underdogs with the visitors claiming a five-wicket victory.

Batting first at St Lawrence, the hosts never really got going and were bowled out for 165 in the final over. Zimbabwean Glen Querl was the chief wicket-taker; returning fine figures of 4-41 as the Spitfires stuttered on home turf. Sam Northeast was the only batsman to get fully used to the conditions. His 69 gave Kent some hope and he shared in a fifth-wicket stand of fifty with West Indian overseas player Brendan Nash (26). It was the highest of the innings as Kent found life tougher than expected. Left-arm spinner Luke Beaven (2-23) and former Kent paceman Warren Lee (1-39) both chipped in to support a fine effort by Querl.

Former Warwickshire batsman James Ord got the run chase off to a solid start, scoring 31 off 58 balls, before he became one of Adam Ball’s two scalps. Ball, the left-arm seamer, also accounted for James Campbell for a duck as Unicorns slipped to 63 for three. Tom New – released by Leicestershire in the winter – then steadied the chase, in partnership with captain Keith Parsons.

Wicketkeeper New made 36 as the duo added 49 for the fourth wicket to lead the visitors to a commanding position. However, the reintroduction of spinner James Tredwell accounted for New, Luis Reece and Bradley Wadlan in quick succession as the Unicorns stumbled to 128 for six. However it was left to the experienced Parsons, formerly with Somerset, to keep his cool and his unbeaten 46 proved to be the match-winning innings. Querl completed a superb all-round display by blasting 24, off just 21 balls, as the Unicorns completed the win with an over to spare.

Kent will be looking to buildupon their win under the floodlights at Canterbury on Friday, when Warwickshire suffered their first defeat in the Clydesdale Bank 40 this season as Kent's bowlers and the weather combined to condemn them to a thumping 10-wicket reverse at Canterbury.

Rain interrupted the Warwickshire innings at 94 for seven after 26.3 overs, and after a restart at 8.41pm Kent – set 96 to win in 26 overs – cantered to victory under the St Lawrence Ground floodlights. Kent needed just 16.3 overs, with young opener Sam Billings hitting a stylish maiden one-day half-century.

Kent seamer Mark Davies undermined the innings after Warwickshire had chosen to bat with a brilliant new ball spell of 8-3-10-3, and then James Tredwell and Darren Stevens made further inroads as Rikki Clarke, Darren Maddy and Chris Woakes tried to stage a recovery from the depths of nine for four.

Kentare also boosted by the return of limited–overs specialist Azhar Mahmood. The talented all-rounder recently returned to the county after a stint with the Kings XI Punjab in the Indian Premier League.

For information on the Southend Cricket Festival, including Unicorns v Sussex Sharks and Kent Spitfires, click here