Match Report: Kent Spitfires vs. Hampshire Hawks

Match Report: Kent Spitfires vs. Hampshire Hawks

Hampshire Hawks made the journey to Canterbury to face the Kent Spitfires in the Vitality Blast at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence’s Pride Match, supporting Porchlight’s BeYou Project.

The Kent Spitfires will welcome Middlesex to ‘Fortress Canterbury’ in a floodlit, Friday night T20 match on 23 June.

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A brilliant 89 from Daniel Bell-Drummond helped the Kent Spitfires keep their Vitality Blast hopes alive with a six-wicket win over the Hampshire Hawks at Canterbury on Friday night.

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Joe Denly made 41 in a stand worth 91 for the second wicket with Bell-Drummond as the Spitfires closed on 180 for four, for only their second win of the campaign.

A tight penultimate over from Nathan Ellis which went for just two, gave the visitors made things tenser than expected, but Jack Leaning hit the winning boundary off Chris Wood with three balls remaining.

Earlier Hampshire had made 177 for seven, Joe Weatherley anchoring the innings with 67, after Ben McDermott creamed 57 from 30 balls, but they paid the price for failing to cash in after the duo had taken them to 112 for two from 12 overs. Fred Klaassen had Kent’s best bowling figures with two for 31 while Grant Stewart took two for 39.

The last two Blast champions met at The Spitfire Ground in front of a crowd of over 3,500, with holders Hampshire heavy favourites for the “Pilgrims Way derby” against a Kent side who’d lost five consecutive games while looking a shadow of their 2021 vintage.

Klaassen initially seemed to vindicate Kent’s decision to bowl when he took two wickets in three balls to reduce the visitors to 18 for two. James Vince went for a golden duck in the first over, Klaassen hitting both middle and off stump and in his next over he sent Toby Albert’s off stump flying.

However, McDermott and Weatherley responded with a blistering partnership of 84 that only ended when the former hit Stewart to Tawanda Muyeye at deep extra cover.

From then on a steady flow of wickets slowed the scoring rate. Stewart got his second when Kane Richardson sprinted for around 20 yards and just clung on to a skyer from Ross Whiteley.

James Fuller had made four when he drove Michael Hogan to Jordan Cox at cow corner and Weatherley finally perished when he holed out to Richardson and Stewart held a steepling catch.

In the final over Wood was out without even facing a ball, run out by Michael Hogan off at the non-striker’s end and although Dawson carved the next ball for six the target looked a lot more inviting than had seemed likely when McDermott and Weatherley were flaying the bowlers.

Kent had an early let off when Fuller dropped an easy catch off Muyeye, who was on five when he miscued a John Fuller delivery.

They raced to 59 without loss when an incredulous Muyeye was given lbw to Turner for 22 just before the end of the powerplay, but it didn’t affect the rate, which seldom climbed over eight.

It was a tough evening in the field for the visitors but it might have been significantly worse as Mason Crane narrowly avoided a serious injury after just getting his forearm to a Denly drive that was heading for his skull.

The bowler was able to continue, but by then Hampshire were struggling. Bell-Drummond was in regal form and Denly looked nearly as composed until he charged at Crane and was stumped.

A century looked there for the taking until Bell-Drummond holed out to Vince and Ellis took the catch.

Kent needed just six from the last two overs, but Ellis held them to two in the 19th bowling three dot balls before splaying Billings stumps with the fifth.

The left Wood with four defend off the last over but it took so long to set the field that the home crowd broke into a slow handclap before Leaning hit a single and narrowly avoided getting run out off the second ball. Just as the pessimists in the home support feared the yips might be sitting in, Leaning pulled the third ball for four through fine leg to secure the win.

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Kent Spitfires’ Daniel Bell-Drummond said: “It’s a great feeling. Obviously we’ve only won two but we’re hopefully going to show the side we can be in this tournament.

“Some of the losses were close, some of them we didn’t turn up but it’s great to turn the page and hopefully we go on a run now. We wanted to try something different, we normally try and bat first at Canterbury but we needed to try something new so we went with that. It was a tough first ten overs, McDermott and Weatherley played really well but the guys showed their class and it just shows everyone’s been doing their bit. We haven’t been able to bring it together and today was the first time we did since Gloucestershire really.

“We did really well to restrict them because they were looking like they’d get 200 at one point so credit goes to the bowlers.

“In the powerplay we’ve got one job, to get on with it and get off to a good start and I was scratching a bit for the first eight or nine balls but I think by the third or fourth over we were going to go. We were none down and it was either hit out or get out.

“Tawanda played very well, he’s been looking good all year and his big score will come but I was thankful today I could help the team and get a victory. Joe and I have done it a few times over the years and it felt like old times. And it was needed because we haven’t stood up until now as a unit. Everyone has had their moments and I was just glad we could do it as a batting unit and get over the line.”

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Members do not need to pre-book their space at T20 matches as per last season – entry will be gained by scanning a valid 2023 Kent Cricket Membership card at the gate.

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