Match Report: Hampshire vs. Kent

Match Report: Hampshire vs. Kent

Kent faced Hampshire at The Ageas Bowl in the LV= Insurance County Championship.

Day Three Report:

Kent made strides towards LV= Insurance County Championship Division One safety with a 77-run victory over title-chasing Hampshire at The Ageas Bowl, Southampton.

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Joe Weatherley, James Vince and James Fuller – 56, 73 and 78 not out respectively – had given the south coast county hope of an unlikely chase of 378.

But Nathan Gilchrist took four for 60, including the winning wicket, as Hampshire only reached 300.

It was Hampshire’s third defeat of the season, and Kent’s third victory.

For Kent, their battle for survival in Division One was given a huge boost. To go with the 19 points they took from the victory, closest rivals Warwickshire suffered a shock defeat to rock-bottom Gloucestershire to give Kent a 14-point buffer heading into the final round – where they face Somerset at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence.

Hampshire’s hopes of winning the game had been trounced after they had been bowled out for 57 – in doing so giving up a 108-run first-innings deficit – and were further diminished when they had lost four wickets in their pursuit of 378 on the second evening.

Joe Weatherley had been the shining light of that period with his first score above 25 since April. He had ended the day on 54, having left and defended well, while also finding ways to score.

The morning only brought two runs in a six-over stay before a full Nathan Gilchrist delivery thudded into his shin. Gilchrist’s following over saw the end of the unbalanced Ben Brown, who clipped a similarly full ball to square leg.

Conor McKerr, who joined Kent on loan for this fixture, has perhaps the loudest celebration of the day when he pinned Aneurin Donald in front.

Vince wasn’t allowing Kent to ease to victory though, as he demonstrated his trademarked mix of dogged determinism to win the game for his team and beautiful shot-making. His first three scoring shots were variations on a cover drive, including the first ball of the day.

He moved to his sixth half-century of the season off 81 balls with a dabbed three down to third, to take the required runs down to 169 runs at lunch.

But only 27 more runs were knocked off before a turning half-tracker from Jack Leaning lit up Vince’s eyes, and his pull shot fell straight into Tawanda Muyeye’s grasp on the deep midwicket boundary. It ended a 90-run stand with Fuller.

Kyle Abbott was undone by bounce out of the footholds by Leaning to loop to first slip. And despite Fuller racing past a 74 ball fifty and biffing some late runs, Mohammad Abbas had his off stump knocked over by Gilchrist.

The defeat is Hampshire’s first at home in the Championship since losing to Somerset last May – a run of 10 victories – and just their second since the start of the 2019 season.

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Kent Head Coach Matt Walker: “We are extremely proud, that is the feeling that is emanating around the dressing from everybody. There is a sense of pride about that and winning a four day match like that is the best feeling.

“It has been a good team performance. There has been individual performances in most games but everybody played a part in this game. In a game like that you need everyone to come to the party.

“From the situation we were in at 32 for five to win that match is a great effort. The innings from Ben Compton was enormous in the context of the game and then the response from the guys with the ball was fantastic. The performance from Jack after that was truly special.

“Whenever James Vince is at the crease you are worried he could do something special. He was the wicket we were desperate for and then when that happen we felt a big step closer to the win. You never know until it is over but you felt once that wicket happened the ship had started to sink.

“We had to win. We came here with seven players out, so taking all that in consideration it is a hell of a win against a side pushing for the title. This game and the last game are really big games and we’ve crossed this one off with a win which has given us a chance. We’re going to need a similar performance next week.”

Day Two Report:

Jack Leaning celebrated his second century of the season to boost Kent’s hopes of avoiding relegation from LV= Insurance County Championship Division One as they set title-chasing Hampshire 378 runs to win.

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Leaning struck 112 as the pitch became more conducive to batting, following 23 wickets falling on a fast-forward opening day, as Kent totted up 269 runs.

It meant Hampshire, who had seen Mohammad Abbas claim four for 68, required the fifth highest chase in their history to keep themselves in the title race – with Surrey highly likely to pick up a win and six bonus points.

Joe Weatherley was exceptional for his unbeaten 54 but Hampshire lost openers Felix Organ and Ian Holland plus night watcher Keith Barker and Nick Gubbins while knocking 105 off the required total in 35 overs – with 273 runs still required to victory.

Having taken three evening wickets – albeit two were night watchers and the light had dimmed – Hampshire were optimistic they could blast the remaining seven Kent batters, have a modest target to chase and reignite their title tilt.

They were in for another chastening day, as the pitch somewhat flattened out and their visitors took advantage.

Tawanda Muyeye and Daniel Bell-Drummond came out with a game plan to attack with the pair driving with glamourous abandon, the pair putting on a carefree 35. Muyeye gained a life on 34 when dropped at third slip but failed to use it when leg before to Kyle Abbott in the following over.

Bell-Drummond continued on his way to 40, with all but six of the runs coming in boundaries, with 51 added with Leaning before he was bowled playing around James Fuller. Ollie Robinson also fell before lunch edging a slog to first slip.

The afternoon saw Leaning come into his own. He set up outside of his crease and then lurched further forward to try and get to the ball before it significantly moved.

His hypothesis worked as he comfortably collected runs, most often guiding to third. His fifty came in that region, although through an edge between wicketkeeper and slip, in 89 balls.

Leaning is on course to average above 40 in his first two full seasons at Kent, since moving from Yorkshire, but last season his failure to convert blackened his 745 a tad. He turned a fifty to a century just once in seven attempts in 2021.

He has almost matched his overall tally from last year, up to 714 after this innings, and has now scored two centuries – this being in much trickier conditions than his 128 against Gloucestershire at home.

The right-hander reached his eighth first-class century by advancing and dispatching a six over midwicket. He had batted through over an hour after lunch with Harry Finch for 78 before the latter was lbw to Abbott.

From there wickets fell more regularly as Leaning scored all but one run off the bat in stands of 17 and 21 with Joey Evison and Nathan Gilchrist. Evison was caught behind, Leaning upper-cutting to deep point and Gilchrist picking out long on to end the innings.

Only Hampshire sides in 1983, 1985, 1990 and 2006 had scored greater than 378 runs to win a match. Chances of replicating those performances got off to a hitch when Holland was leg before to Matt Quinn in the fourth over.

Organ and Weatherley bravely copped knocks on the hand during a ferocious Conor McKerr over with the homegrown duo putting on 68.

But after back-to-back boundaries, Organ edged Harry Podmore behind. He left the middle banging his bat against his helmet in frustration before Barker starved off 17 deliveries and then looped a bouncer to midwicket. Quinn picked up his eighth wicket of the match as Gubbins left a delivery that nipped back into his off stump.

The smattering of wickets meant Weatherley shyly celebrated his 94-ball half-century – his first since April.

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Kent stand-in captain Jack Leaning: “We’ve got ourselves into a really strong position in the game.

“We fought really hard with the bat. At the start of the day we set out to ideally get a lead of 250 so to come away almost 380 ahead and bowl as well as we did was pleasing to watch.

“The boys back it up with the ball. The wickets didn’t come as quickly as the first innings but we controlled the rate and bowled in the right areas. We were outstanding as a team today.

“The pitch has definitely flattened out but we saw that some are starting to go up and down which will make it tough for their guys tomorrow.

“I am trying to be a bit more proactive in my game to score a bit more. I did that today and it was my day. To get those runs in a tough situation like this and get the team in a good position as captain is pleasing.

“In the context of our season tomorrow is an important day. If we can come away with the win it puts us in a really strong position going into the last round of fixtures in terms of staying in Division One.”

Day One Report:

Hampshire were skittled for 57 in 87 minutes by Kent at the Ageas Bowl to boost the away side’s hopes in their final two crunch Championship matches.

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Matt Quinn claimed six for 23 to rout Hampshire for the lowest first-class score at the Ageas and their worst total since 1984 – where they were bowled out for 56 against Kent at Canterbury in a set-up match.

Hampshire’s fast bowlers Mohammad Abbas, Kyle Abbott and Keith Barker had all combined to see off Kent for 165 on a green pitch which offered some, but not excessive, movement – but still conceded a 108-run first-innings deficit.

Kent reached 20 for three at close in their second innings as Hampshire, who started the round eight points adrift of leaders Surrey.

James Vince had chosen to stick Kent in and had them 32 for five before Ben Compton had ground 63 off 161 balls, to provide a backbone in tricky circumstances.

What followed was a cricketing massacre.

Felix Organ was caught at second slip in the fifth over, Joe Weatherley unconvincingly chopped onto his own stumps and Nick Gubbins followed one that angled across him behind.

Quinn had picked up Weatherley from the Rod Bransgrove Pavilion End but swapped to the Hilton End to pilfer Vince and top scorer with 19, Ian Holland, in the same over – the former caught off the inside edge and the latter pushing to first slip.

Ben Brown was bowled by a Nathan Gilchrist beauty, before the last four wickets fell for just three runs – Barker chipping to mid-off, Aneurin Donald playing on, Abbott caught at second slip and Abbas castled.

It was the joint 45th lowest total in Hampshire’s history, as they only managed to see out 101 deliveries.

To go with Quinn’s six-for, Gilchrist and Harry Podmore both posted two-fors.

Earlier, a Kent side shorn of Sam Billings, Jordan Cox, Matt Milnes, Grant Stewart, Zak Crawley and Joe Denly for all manner of injury, international and paternity reasons, battled to what appeared a below-par 165.

Tawanda Muyeye lasted only five balls into the match when he was leg before to Barker and it took Abbas took just as long to take a wicket at the other end as Daniel Bell-Drummond edged behind to Aneurin Donald – who continued to take the gloves despite Brown’s return to the XI.

Jack Leaning stemmed the wicket-taking with a steadfast eight off 57 balls but was bowled by Abbott attempting to work the ball into the leg side.

It began a spell of aggressive bowling by the South African fast bowler – backed up by Holland bowling six straight maidens at the other end – which saw Ollie Robinson play on and Harry Finch lbw in consecutive balls.

Amongst the tumble was the unflinching Compton, who never knowingly played at a ball not hitting at his stumps in his 161-ball vigil. He had been in single figures for 36 balls and happily stuck on 18 for 36 dot balls as he got the ball soft.

He reached his first half-century since early June in 141 balls during strong partnerships of 68 and 45 with Royal London Cup final hero Joey Evison and Harry Podmore.

Hampshire’s attack chipped away and broke through at regular intervals thereafter with Abbott returning four for 46, Barker passing 50 wickets for the season with three for 30 and Abbas three for 29.

In Kent’s second innings, Compton was caught at first slip and night watcher Conor McKerr caught behind, both to Abbas, and second night watcher Podmore was bowled by Holland.

It meant 23 wickets had fallen on a dizzying day.

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Kent bowler Matt Quinn said: “That has been an eventful day on a very bowler-friendly wicket. We are in a great position despite losing a few wickets at the end of the day – even if they were sacrificial lambs.

“It was a hell of a partnership between Compton and Evison. It just shows how well Compton batted today on that surface. He has been phenomenal all year and we really needed him to stand up today. The way he batted showed how good he is.

“It was a wicket where if you put the ball in the right area then it does plenty. There was constant nip. On some wickets you get the odd ball that nips but in this game it seemed to have five balls out of six which moved.

“I like to think I’ve bowled well all year and finally I have been rewarded. To get some wickets is a big relief.

“Bowling a side out for 57 is special and all the bowlers will be rejoicing after a tough season. We have been dreaming all year of knocking over a team like this all year.

“If we can get a 200 run lead then it’ll be a really good effort.”

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