Match Report: Kent vs. Hampshire

Match Report: Kent vs. Hampshire

Kent vs. Hampshire was the last home LV= Insurance County Championship match before the start of the Vitality Blast, at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence.

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Day Four Report:

A brilliant defensive display by Kent earned them a draw with Hampshire, after an engrossing final day in the LV= Insurance County Championship at Canterbury.

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It was a textbook rearguard action by the hosts, who closed on 259 for four, having batted out 113 overs before the captains shook hands, even though Kent were still 18 runs behind.

Ben Compton and Zak Crawley had given Kent hope with an opening stand of 122 and although Hampshire’s hopes were ignited by a spell of three wickets for four runs, they were frustrated by Jack Leaning and Jordan Cox, whose unbeaten stand of 77 took out 43.2 overs.

Keith Barker and Liam Dawson took two wickets apiece, but it was an exasperating final day for the visitors.

The hosts will be far happier with the draw, having been bowled out for 95 in their first innings, before Hampshire posted 373 in reply.

The visitors had looked heavy favourites, but Kent were 66 without loss overnight after 26 overs’ of stoicism from Compton and a restrained Crawley.

Batting conditions looked significantly easier in a Spitfire Ground that looked and felt warm for the first time this season, and both openers eased their way to fifty, but after over an hour of resistance, Dawson made the breakthrough with two wickets in an over.

Crawley was caught behind for 56 and four deliveries later Tawanda Muyeye fell for a duck, held by Fletcha Middleton at silly point.

When Keith Barker subsequently had Compton lbw for 54 Kent were reeling on 126 for three, but Leaning and Sam Billings survived till Lunch and for nearly an hour after it before the latter was lbw for 29 to Barker.

That was the only wicket to fall in the afternoon session, with Kent reaching 202 for four at tea. Cox played with admirable restraint and when Mohammad Abbas did find his edge it bisected the slip cordon and his next delivery fell just short of second slip. They were isolated alarms for the hosts.

Leaning reached 50 when he pulled Barker to square leg for a single and an exhausted Hampshire side tried nine different bowlers before giving up the ghost with nine scheduled overs remaining.

Leaning ended on 68 not out from 206 balls, with Cox unbeaten on 30 from 130.

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Kent Captain, Sam Billings said: “It’s hugely satisfying after being bundled out in bowler-friendly conditions on Thursday. I think it was a really good toss for them to win actually there were perfect conditions and yeah, we batted horrendously on that first morning but the character shown … that was the challenge we set them.

“We know we haven’t been up to scratch with ball and bat this year, we’ve been poor and we had the odd glimmer of hope with Zak and Ben Compton with the bat but it was time for other guys to step up and we saw that today. It was really pleasing to see the character shown. It was a hell of effort against that bowling attack, regardless of the wicket to get some sort of a result out of that.

“I’m really pleased. They’re little steps, but they’re positive steps in the right direction.

(On handing over the gloves) “For me, I’ve batted at eight, seven and six this year and obviously not scored the runs I would have liked. Captaining, keeping and batting was taking its toll to be honest and for Coxy’s development as well, we value him hugely as hopefully a future England so to continue his development it gives him a great opportunity to keep wicket as well. We know what a great player he is with the bat and Tawanda is the most in form batter in the club simply put. In a struggling batting unit, with a guy who’s basically scored four hundreds, we felt he was too good to leave out and he showed his class in the first innings when he played beautifully.

“The talent he possesses, he’s going to be a really exciting player going forward and you have to make those tough decisions as a leadership group. We weren’t playing well enough and we wanted to shift it around a bit. I’m not saying it’s all fixed but people have got to perform, myself included, because we’ve got some very good players scoring runs in the second team.”

Kent’s Ben Compton said: “We’re very chuffed, I think Hampshire are a very strong side, so given our position in that first innings we’ll be happy to take that draw. Credit to Jack and Coxy and Zak for the way we played today.

“We were chasing the game from the first innings but we had good spells in the game like on the morning of day three, so there are good signs and hopefully we can take that into next week.

“It was a good day we batted really well. It was hard work, I think the Hampshire attack is a bloody tough one. They deserve a lot of respect and they’re right up there with the best in the county  so obviously I’m chuffed to get runs against them and help us get a draw against them.

“Our season’s been interesting, we’ve had signs and spells of real excellence so the challenge for us is to try and keep that consistency I think because when we get I right with the ball we do really well and obviously with the bat we’ve shown the right stuff.

(On Leaning and Cox) “It was perfect batting for the situation and it didn’t leave us with any awkward, horrible afternoon session wen we were losing wickets and having to scrape a draw. They were very professional.”

Day Three Report:

Kent were left battling for a draw, after three days of their of the LV= Insurance County Championship match with Hampshire at Canterbury.

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The hosts are on 66 for no loss in their second innings, trailing by 212, with Zak Crawley unbeaten on 35 and Ben Compton 30 not out.

Earlier Liam Dawson hit 84, Joe Weatherly 58 and James Fuller 51 as the visitors posted 373 in their first innings.

Kent had started well, with Wes Agar taking three early wickets to help reduce Hampshire to 159 for five, but after riding out a torrid opening session the visitors kicked on after lunch and took a 278-run lead.

After day two had been reduced to a rump of just 6.1 overs, the weather finally improved on Saturday morning, with Hampshire resuming on 103 for nought.

Having been dismissed for just 95 in their first innings, Kent came roaring back into the contest, with Agar striking twice in the third over over of the day.

Fletcha Middleton was first to go, edging behind for 48 and handing Jordan Cox his first red-ball dismissal as a wicket-keeper. Agar then produced an absolute jaffa that sent Nick Gubbins’ off-stump cartwheeling.

He then had Weatherley lbw, but was denied a fourth victim when Zak Crawley dropped Ben Brown, although the batter failed to cash in, adding just a single before he was lbw to Grant Stewart for 10.

A far-from-gruntled James Vince was given lbw to Michael Hogan for 24 and Hampshire endured a spell of 7.4 overs without scoring.

Ian Holland took 36 balls to get off the mark, although when he did it was a stylish cut off Joey Evison for four and he and Dawson survived to reach 189 for five at lunch.

From then on the visitors dominated and as the runs came in torrents the home desperation was summed up when an lbw appeal was turned down and a fan yelled: “Come on you … ” before realising the entire ground could hear him. Thinking better of swearing, he meekly added the word … “umpire,” to widespread laughter.

A potentially crucial stand of 94 was ended in emphatic fashion when Evison splayed Holland’s stumps for 41, but by then the momentum was entirely with Hampshire.

It was 308 for six at tea and Dawson continued to hit out until he holed out to Hamid Qadri and was caught at mid-wicket by Tawanda Muyeye.

Kyle Abbott was lbw to Evision for 2 before Fuller tried to sweep a full toss from Qadri and was caught on the boundary by Muyeye.

When Barker clubbed Evison to Muyeye for 25 it left Kent with a hazardous 26 overs to survive until stumps.

Dawson put down a tough chance to catch Ben Compton off Mohammad Abbas, but the openers batted through until failing light forced Hampshire to bring on their spinners for the final five overs and neither Dawson nor Weatherley was able to break through.

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Kent’s Wes Agar said: “I guess it was a different kind of day today. You take five wickets in the first session and then they came back well and put together good partnerships on a wicket that slowed up a fair bit and made it difficult for us.

“We were happy with the way we bowled today, we had a chart. We realised we couldn’t change (what had happened) and we set that tone. Yes we would have liked to have got more wickets in that second session and continued it but I think we fought well and then for the boys at the back end there to fight hard and give us a platform for tomorrow is a positive.

“I think at times you can get caught into trying to do too much and thinking ‘What can I do to get those wickets’ so for me it was about literally about going back to simplicity, hitting that same spot as much as I could.

“I found it difficult early from that top end with the slope, getting my line so I had a good chat with my bowling coach, discussed my lines and where I needed to be and I thought I rectified it quite well in that first session.

“Zak and Ben are class players and it gives us a great platform to bat on tomorrow. Obviously with the rai around and everything it’s going to be hard to fight for a win, but it’s little wins in this situation.”

Day Two Report:

There was frustration for fans and players alike at Canterbury as a mere 6.1 overs were possible on day two of the LV= Insurance County Championship match between Kent and Hampshire.

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During a drastically truncated evening session, Hampshire moved to 103 without loss, a lead of eight.

Joe Weatherley is unbeaten on 47 and Fletcha Middleton is 43 not out, but a combination of rain and high winds wiped out the first two sessions and most of the third.

Hampshire had ended day one on 89 without loss in reply to Kent’s 95 all out, but they were unable to press home their advantage as the heavens opened an hour before play was due to start. Even when the rain relented the skies remained ashen and high winds meant the hosts were unable to put up their floodlights.

Tea was taken at 3.30pm, by which time the crowd consisted of three men in the Underwood-Knott Stand wearing banana costumes to celebrate a 40th birthday.

Play finally began, after multiple inspections, at 5.12pm, but the only meaningful chance came when Weatherley edged Michael Hogan to second slip and Zak Crawley couldn’t hang on to an ankle-high, difficult catch.

Middleton produced an elegant cut off Wes Agar for four, to steer Hampshire past three figures, but after just 27 minutes the light deteriorated again and although the umpires showed severe optimism by lingering in the middle in the hope things might improve, play was finally abandoned for the day at 18:01.

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Day One Report:

James Fuller took five for 21 as Hampshire took a firm upper hand on the first day of their LV= Insurance County Championship match with Kent at Canterbury, dismissing the hosts for 95 before reaching 89 without loss at stumps.

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Tawanda Muyeye was the hosts’ top scorer with 28, but Kent collapsed from 94 for six, losing their last four wickets for a solitary run in the space of 15 balls.

Fletcha Middleton and Joe Weatherley were not out at stumps, on 39 and 38 respectively and the visitors trail by just six, with all 10 first innings wickets remaining.

A pregnant skyline greeted the sides at The Spitfire Ground and to the surprise of precisely no one, Hampshire chose to bowl after winning the Toss, cashing in almost immediately. Ben Compton went without scoring, edging Mohammad Abbas to Weatherley in the slips and Zak Crawley made just seven before he was lbw to Keith Barker, for his 500th first-class wicket.

Muyeye, back in the side after a scoring a glut of runs for the second XI, looked more at home, but after a typically attractive 28 he was lbw to Fuller.

Kent announced before the start of play that Sam Billings was playing as a specialist batter, with Jordan Cox keeping wicket. The official reason to allow him to concentrate on his batting after a run of sub-optimal scores, but it did little to improve his luck. With rain already falling he was lbw to Fuller for two, to the eighth delivery he faced. With Kent floundering on 56 for four, Cox emerged from the pavilion but the rain then became too heavy for the umpires to ignore and play didn’t resume until 15:58.

By then conditions had improved but batting didn’t appear any easier. Cox scratched out 12 before Fuller had him caught behind and Joey Evison was next, leaving a Fuller delivery that clipped the top of his off stump.

Jack Leaning at least offered some resistance, hanging around for 96 balls until Abbott had him caught by Liam Dawson at second slip for 24, but when he went the tail was wiped out.

Grant Stewart became Fuller’s fifth victim when he was caught behind for 14 and Hamid Qadri was out for a five-ball duck, driving Abbott to Barker at mid-on.

The innings concluded when Wes Agar was caught by Ben Brown off Abbott for nought. Kent’s joyless day was encapsulated Weatherley nicked Agar behind when he was on 29 and Cox failed to hang onto it.

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Kent’s Batting Coach, Alex Gidman said: “Clearly it’s been a disappointing first day from our perspective. We played some good cricket here in the first two games here and it’s disappointing to have started the game as we have done so far.

“I think they put us under a lot of pressure early and bowled very accurately. Today we didn’t quite have the skill set to counter it. It wasn’t through a lack of effort or trying, it just wasn’t to be today and I’m sure the guys will be doing their utmost to learn from today and react in the second innings.

“It certainly nipped around early on and the Hampshire bowlers got everything they could out of the wicket. They bowled particularly well and perhaps the heavy roller and the sunlight this evening made a difference, but again it wasn’t through a lack of effort, we just didn’t quite get the same out of it perhaps. It just wasn’t quite our day today.

“Tawanda has been literally smashing the door down, his form in the Second XI has been amazing with three hundreds and a 90 so he thoroughly deserves his place in the team. I thought he looked very comfortable and was well worth the runs he got. I’m delighted for him and certainly the way he slotted in was a real positive.”

Spitfires vs. Hawks becomes a T20 this June

Kent Spitfires will face Hampshire Hawks in a T20 showdown at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence – under the lights on a Friday night:

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