Match Report: Kent Spitfires vs. Middlesex

Match Report: Kent Spitfires vs. Middlesex

Kent Spitfires faced Middlesex at The County Ground, Beckenham in their fifth Metro Bank One Day Cup match of the Summer.

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Jack Leaning starred with bat and ball as the Kent Spitfires pummelled Middlesex by 134 runs in the Metro Bank One Day Cup at Beckenham.

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The Kent skipper top-scored with 68 as the hosts posted 288, before claiming two key wickets as the visitors were all out for 154 with 13.2 overs remaining.

Ryan Higgins had earlier taken four for 33 and Luke Hollman three for 53 as Middlesex bowled the Spitfires out in 49.1 overs, but 60 from Ben Compton and 58 from Daniel Bell-Drummond helped the hosts to a total that Middlesex never seriously threatened and Leaning was one of five Kent bowlers to finish with two wickets.

Buoyed by Friday’s rout of Surrey at The Oval, Kent abandoned their usual strategy of bowling first after winning the toss, putting faith in their spinners to defend whatever they posted.

Progress was solid but ponderous during the an opening stand of 109 and when Compton was dropped on seven by Higgins off Ishaan Kaushal, in the ninth over, some of the less patient home fans wondered if it might have been deliberate.

It was an absolute dolly but Higgins then took a far more difficult chance to break the partnership in the 21st, sprinting in from long on to get Bell-Drummond, after he’d skied a delivery from Hollman, who was then denied a second wicket when Leaning was dropped in the slips when he was on six.

It took 79 balls for Compton to hit his first boundary, pulling Ethan Bamber for four to reach 50 but when he was then out, chipping Higgins to Bamber, his contribution took on a different perspective as the Spitfires lurched from 188 for one to 222 for six.

Hollman returned to take two wickets in two balls, bowling Alex Blake for 10 and then bowling Harry Finch for a golden duck.

Jaydn Denly was bowled by Higgins for six and James Bazley went for a duck when he wafted Hollman to Martin Andersson.

The hosts urgently needed a counter-attack and the 45th over went for 24, with Grant Stewart hammering Andersson for three successive sixes, the first of which was parried over the boundary while Jack Davies was attempting to catch him.

After a stand of 51 the momentum swung back towards Middlesex. Leaning hit Kaushal to Joe Cracknell and Stewart was bowled by Higgins for 43. Two balls later Higgins bowled Jas Singh for the third duck of the innings.

Matt Parkinson and Hamid Qadri added 12 for the final wicket before the former was caught by Kaushal off Bamber with four balls to spare.

Any disappointment Kent felt at having failed to bat their overs melted away as their bowlers swept through the Middlesex top order.

Cracknell went in the second over, trying to reverse-sweep Leaning and wafting him to Bell-Drummond at point.

Bazley then took wickets from successive deliveries. Sam Robson went for 24, caught by Qadri and Jack Davies edged him behind.

Higgins tried to reverse sweep Parkinson and was lbw for 21 and in the next over, the 18th, Mark Leaning bowled Stoneman for 25.

With Middlesex in danger of imploding at 79 for five, Hollman and John Simpson bedded in for the next ten overs, but their stand of 41 ended when the former was bowled by an unplayable delivery from Qadri.

Jas Singh had Josh de Caires caught by a diving Bazley for seven and any realistic hope Middlesex had of making a game of it went when Qadri had Simpson caught behind for 39 with the final ball of the 33rd.

Andersson swatted the next ball, from Singh, high into the south London sky before he was taken by Parkinson and an emphatic win was sealed when the same bowler had Kaushal caught on the boundary by Denly.

The Spitfires have now won three of their five Metro Bank games while Middlesex are yet to get off the mark after four attempts.

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Kent’s Jack Leaning said: “I thought it was a pretty good team effort. The boys at the top set a good platform for the rest of us to come in and play with a bit of freedom. The wicket was tricky throughout the innings but I think the biggest impact was the way that Grant Stewart came in and played at the end of the innings. He really put a good score one the board that was probably a bit beyond their reach.

“I think we’re quite blessed with having four spinners in the team. The pitch got quite tacky and it started to spin a lot so it was a good toss to win to be able to bat first and have a bowl second on it.

“We kept out field up and tried to make them hit over the top and we were really disciplined with our areas where we bowl and the pace that we bowl with the spinners, as long as we got our pace right it was quite tough for them to score. I thought we squeezed them really nicely in the ring, built pressure and took a couple of wickets on the back of that.

“When your spinners can keep it nice and tight and get the rate to go as high as it did, it allows Jas to bowl as well as he did. He bowled brilliantly at Blackpool last week and he’s followed that on really nicely today, so hopefully it’ll be the start of a run for him.

(On batting first after winning the toss). “It worked at The Oval and we felt that spin was going to make quite a big impact. We only had three seamers today so we felt if we could get a couple of overs of spin during the power play it would give us options.

“It was probably more down to the surfaces than a game plan as such, but it’s actually worked quite nicely for us as a team, so maybe it’s something we need to look at going forward. A lot of teams do like to chase in 50 over cricket but one you’ve got the runs on the board and you bowl quite nicely as we have in the last two games it’s easy to restrict the runs.

“We’ve got some nice momentum building now as a team. We’ve certainly got a lot of confidence in the group and we’ve won on some difficult pitches, which is nice. When you start to win on spinning pitches that are a little bit tacky for seamers I think it breeds confidence.”

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