Match Report: Kent Spitfires vs. Sussex Sharks

Match Report: Kent Spitfires vs. Sussex Sharks

Kent Spitfires faced local rivals Sussex Sharks in a Vitality Blast match on a Friday night at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence.

The One-Day Cup returns in the school Summer Holidays – the Kent Spitfires will defend their title at home matches both in Canterbury & Beckenham:

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A century from Ravi Bopara helped the Sussex Sharks beat the Kent Spitfires by 11 runs in a rain-affected Vitality Blast match at Canterbury on Friday night.

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Bopara played a magnificent, almost chanceless, innings to record his highest ever T20 score of 108 from 53 balls, with 18 fours and just one six, as Sussex posted a massive 228 for seven, Tom Clark getting their next highest score with 47.

Kent were 31 for one in reply after 3.2 overs when heavy rain began to fall and they were set a revised target of 129 from 10 overs via the Duckworth-Lewis Method. Needing to hit out as soon as play resumed, they lost wickets too regularly to seriously threaten Sussex and finished on 117 for four, although they remain in the top four.

There was another Friday night sell-out at the Spitfire Ground, but Kent’s decision to bowl first soon backfired as they struggled to cope with damp and blustery conditions.

Jack Leaning bowled Harrison Ward for five with the fifth ball of the night and Oli Carter also went early, chipping Matt Quinn to Michael Hogan at mid on for three but from 14 for two the Sharks launched a blistering counter-attack. Bopara cover drove his first ball for four and took 14 from the over. Clark then took 18 from Leaning’s next over and it was 73 for two by the end of the powerplay, by which time persistent drizzle was falling.

Clark looked in incendiary form, but when he tried to take a single off Joey Evison he was sent back by Bopara and run out by George Linde.

Shadab Khan came in and hit Linde for successive sixes, but when he tried to repeat the feat he was caught by Jordan Cox on the boundary for 15.

Michael Burgess hit 21 from 14, but after switch-hitting Linde for six he was caught behind off the next ball.

Bopara responded by taking 19 from Grant Stewart’s 15th over and he reached three figures with an elegant cover drive off Hogan for two in the 19th. Hogan had Fynn Hudson-Prentice lbw for 16 and Bopara finally went for 108, perhaps unluckily, when he hit a waist-high full toss from Matt Quinn to Alex Blake.

Kent knew they’d have to eclipse their previous highest run chase of 207 to win a T20 match but just three came from the first over and Tawanda Muyeye then played on to Ari Karvelas and was bowled for one.

Blake went in at three for his first appearance of the season and immediately went on the charge. He hit the first ball of Tymal Mills’ fourth over for four and dumped the next into the Sainsbury’s next to the ground for six, but at this point the umpires decided the rain had become too heavy and when they returned Kent needed 98 from 40 balls.

Daniel Bell-Drummond, having scored 480 in the previous week, had to retire hurt on seven and although Sam Billings was dropped by Clark off his first ball, before the over was out Blake holed out to Shadab for a 12-ball 30 and he was caught by Burgess.

Linde hit 12 from three before he was run out chasing a second but Billings and Cox just about kept Kent in it. The former was run out chasing a non-existent single and after Mills went for just six in the 19th, Kent needed 26 from Nathan McAndrew’s final over. They could only manage 14 but results elsewhere mean they can still qualify if they win at Taunton on Sunday.

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Kent’s Matt Quinn said: “I think chaotic is probably the best way to describe it. We were bowling in the rain pretty much the whole time and the ball was like a bar of soap. You try to bowl your variations and you can’t really bowl them, but we’ve won six games in a row.

“We’ve had a bit of a lull here but we’re playing knock-out cricket now, so if can think back to 2021 or the Royal London last year we’re confident we can do it again now.

“Bopara played really well. Obviously there was a small side out there and as bowlers I think we might have got a bit too overwhelmed with that and we hug it a bit wide, but he played really well and showed us how good a batter he is.

“It’s the sort of game where if the batters come off they come off, but going at 15s you’re going to have to go off from the get go and to be fair we gave it a pretty good nudge.

“There was a period where we thought we could do this but obviously it wasn’t to be.”

West end stars return to The Spitfire Ground in July!

Outdoor concerts return to The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence for a bumper weekend of entertainment on 21 and 22 July 2023, with two stunning tribute acts, featuring stars of London’s West End.

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Kent Spitfires return to Beckenham this August!

See the 2023 One Day Cup winners look to retain their title in two one-day clashes at The County Ground, Beckenham:

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