Match Report: Kent Spitfires vs. Middlesex

Match Report: Kent Spitfires vs. Middlesex

Kent Spitfires took on Middlesex in the Vitality Blast at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence on a Friday night showdown under lights.

It’s the ‘War of the Wealds’ next Friday – Kent Spitfires welcome Sussex Sharks to Canterbury in Kent’s final home Group Stage match of the 2023 Vitality Blast:

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Kent Spitfires also face Middlesex in the One-Day Cup at The County Ground, Beckenham on Sunday 13 August:

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A euphoric 111 from Daniel Bell-Drummond and a Grant Stewart hat-trick helped the Kent Spitfires to an emphatic 55-run win over Middlesex in the Vitality Blast at Canterbury.

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Bell-Drummond’s joyous innings lasted 58 balls and included four sixes as for the second consecutive evening Middlesex shipped way in excess of 200. Kent posted 228 for three, but having stunned Surrey with a Blast-record run chase the previous evening, this time Middlesex subsided to 173 all out, with George Linde and Joey Evison also claiming three wickets apiece. Luke Hollman was the visitors’ top scorer with 48 from 20 balls, but the required rate became unmanageable and they were all out with an over to spare.

The Spitfire Ground was sold out on a sweltering Friday night, with over 5000 packed into the ground to watch the hosts, resurgent after five consecutive wins, take on a Middlesex side who were still bottom of the South Group, despite Thursday night’s miracle.

The memory of that staggering performance may have explained the visitors’ decision to field, but the same mixture of buffet bowling and Tufnellesque fielding they’d offered at The Oval saw Kent race to 72 without loss by the end of the powerplay.

An early chance went begging when Tawanda Muyeye, who was on eight, holed out to Toby Greatwood, only for Luke Hollman to miss an over-the-shoulder catch. Muyeye smote the next ball for six and the openers put on a stand of 127 before he was bowled by Josh de Caires for 50.

The run rate slowed slightly and Joe Denly was on 12 when Martin Andersson missed a difficult chance to catch him off Hollman, but it picked up again as Bell-Drummond reached his second Blast century with a classic cover drive for four off Greatwood and when Ryan Higgins’ 17th over only went for three it felt like a minor triumph for the visitors.

Bell-Drummond was one short of his best Blast score when he hoicked Max Harris to Jack Davies at square leg and he departed to a standing ovation.

Denly went for 30 driving Higgins to Andersson at long on but Sam Billings smashed 22 off the final over, meaning Middlesex had conceded exactly the same number of runs they did a week ago when Kent won the reverse fixture at Lord’s.

Hopes of a second miracle in 24 hours dimmed when the first three overs went for just six and Joe Cracknell swept Linde to Bell-Drummond in the fourth. Although Max Holden initially carried on where he’d left off against Surrey, with 10 off his first two balls, he was bowled for 11, playing on to Evison.

Linde then took two wickets in the eight over. Higgins then played on to the first ball before John Simpson fell to a diving catch by Evison on the boundary.

Stephen Eskinazi went for 32, flicking Evison to Grant Stewart and Davies rattled off a quick 24 before he was lbw to the same bowler.

Hollman and de Caires went down fighting, plundering 23 from Michael Hogan’s 14th over and putting on 60 for the seventh wicket, but a nightmarish 16th over for Stewart ended with Hollman caught in the deep by Jordan Cox off the tenth and final delivery.

At the start of his next over Stewart had de Caires caught on the boundary by Jack Leaning and the bowler’s redemption was complete when Harris was taken just inside the rope by Cox.

The rout was sealed when Greatwood chipped Agar to Evison and Kent, having seemed dead and buried little more than a fortnight ago, stand every chance of reaching the knock-out stages.

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Kent’s Daniel Bell-Drummond said: “The key was keeping it simple and doing the basics well. Obviously we got off to a nice start once we knew we were batting first.

“Middlesex came off a brilliant win yesterday so they will have been high, but it was just a case of making sure we stuck to our strengths.

“Tawanda played well and it was great to see him get some runs. We know how good he is and he’s a young player learning his trade. He showed his class today.

“It means everything to make a hundred, playing in front of a home crowd and it’s been a while since my last one. I felt really good coming in today, I had some good form. It was a lovely wicket, I made the most of it and hopefully we can keep going from strength to strength in this tournament.

“We knew they were going to come hard, chasing a big total, but the first three overs went for ten I think and they just really didn’t get going. They had a nice partnership with Hollman at the end but we were always in control. Five games into the T20 we wouldn’t have guessed we’d be in this position.

“They’ve got brilliant players like Eskinazi and we always respect the opposition. I didn’t watch yesterday’s game, but I think it was one of those games when the ball flies everywhere. I know our guys were on it 100 percent and I always backed us as favourites and of course anyone can get close, including them, but we backed ourselves to defend it and weren’t too worried.”

Kent’s Grant Stewart said: “It’s one of the dustiest hat-tricks you’ll ever see. You should cherish it but unfortunately I didn’t bowl at my best tonight. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster T20 to come with a hat-trick but I definitely wasn’t the pick of the bowlers tonight. It was pleasing to get a hat-trick and drag it back a bit and it was a good result.

“I guess (Hollman and de Caires) were trying to take on the short boundary so it was tough work to bowl at times at this end, but I guess they had a bit of a cameo there, but they were always behind the pace.

“It’s a bit of a turn around from the start of the competition, but we all know how T20 can go. Everyone that went in was unbelievable and we put them under pressure from ball one. We were on the front foot from pretty much the first ball, so it’s a good changing room to be in at the moment.

“It’s tough to put your finger on what’s clicked, the boys are just backing themselves. We saw Deebs with an unbelievable hundred today. I think he’s got five 50s in the comp already and Joe Denly, Tawanda and pretty much everyone in the order you can name how good their performances have been in the last few weeks. Hopefully it’ll roll on.”

Friday night T20s are back!

Kent Spitfires’ final home T20 match of the South Group is against Sussex Sharks next Friday!

Buy your tickets now to avoid disappointment & lock in supporting your Spitfires now in an exciting Summer of white-ball cricket:

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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.

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.

Should seated areas such as the Frank Woolley Stand also sell-out, an allocation is set aside for Members & Six Pack Plus Ticket Holders.