Match Report: Kent vs. Northamptonshire

Match Report: Kent vs. Northamptonshire

Kent & Northamptonshire contested the 170th Canterbury Cricket Week at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence.

Day Four Report:

Northamptonshire have beaten Kent by 203 runs on the final day of their showdown in the LV= Insurance County Championship, after an afternoon of raw, stomach-churning tension at Canterbury.

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Rob Keogh took the final wicket with just ten minutes to spare before the 6.03pm cut-off, giving Northamptonshire 22 points to Kent’s six and moving them above the hosts in the Division One standings.

Spinners Keogh and Simon Kerrigan span Northamptonshire to a sensational win, taking five for 31 and five for 43 respectively, after they’d declared on 396 for eight, setting Kent a target of 365 from 74 overs. Ryan Rickelton was their top scorer with 133, while George Linde took three for 41.

The draw had looked the most likely result at the start of play, but the hosts collapsed from 64 for no wicket midway through the afternoon session to 161 all out.

The visitors began day four with a lead of 252, when the most realistic hope of a meaningful contest seemed to hinge on Kent taking early wickets with the new ball. Yet although Lewis McManus added just a single to his overnight score of four when he was strangled down the leg side by Matt Milnes and caught by Sam Billings in the third over, Rickelton and Luke Procter responded with a 72-run stand.

The partnership was initially cautious, but once the lead was over 300 the visitors started to swing.

When Rickelton was eventually stumped after charging down the wicket to Linde, Kerrigan came in and reverse swept Jack Leaning for six. His 10-ball cameo ended when he skied Linde to Daniel Bell-Drummond at deep-midwicket and was caught for 22.

The word on the vine on Wednesday night was that Northamptonshire were unlikely to risk a declaration against a direct relegation rival, but after 100 overs they came off, sending a frisson of excitement around the St. Lawrence that there might be a game on after all.

If the target was gettable in theory, Zak Crawley and Ben Compton batted cautiously for the seven overs through to Lunch and showed little appetite for the chase after it.

Crawley lasted for just over an hour after the restart but when he was caught behind off Kerrigan, wickets began to tumble. Kerrigan removed Bell-Drummond for one, caught at first slip by Jimmy Neesham and the visitors’ hopes soared when the same bowler had Ben Compton caught by Emilio Gay at short leg for 34.

Rog Keogh then trapped Joe Denly lbw for five, at which point Kent had lost four for 24 and still had another 41 overs to survive.

It was 96 for four at Tea and although Jordan Cox and Jack Leaning put together a useful stand of 49, Kerrigan bowled the former for 31.

Leaning and Sam Billings looked to be taking Kent towards safety when Kerrigan took two wickets in four balls.

Leaning played on to Rob Keogh and was bowled for 26 and George Linde went in the same over, lasting only three balls before he tried to sweep Keogh and was caught by Neesham for a duck, leaving Kent in deep trouble on 144 for seven with 16 overs remaining.

In his next over Keogh bowled Grant Stewart for a duck and Kerrigan then had Matt Milnes caught, by Josh Cobb in the slips, also without scoring. That left last man Matt Quinn at least 11.5 overs to survive with Billings.

They survived to that landmark, but with Northamptonshire rattling through the overs, there was still another ten minutes in hand and having successfully deadbatted 37 deliveries, Quinn was finally caught at short leg by the sub fielder James Sales.

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Kent’s Sam Billings said: “We had an opportunity in our first innings to really put our foot down and kind of command a position in the game but look, this is Division One cricket. They’re a good side and actually they just toiled away and got their rewards. I thought their two seamers were actually brilliant throughout the game and actually they were the difference. Losing five for 30 (in the first innings) was always going to be a struggle. All of a sudden that 30-lead wasn’t enough. We really could have had a hundred lead or so and then it’s a completely different complexion to the game, but like I said, credit to them, they did well.

“They were always going to get a partnership on that pitch, I think it was a very good wicket to bat on and with that, I think it was a very good toss to win. We would have done the same, but they made the most of it and once they got into that position their two overseas players really did change the dynamic of the game. We all know how dangerous Jimmy Neesham is and that knock really catapulted them into a dangerous position which was hard to stop for us.

“Today is just a classic game of a four-day cricket on a pitch that’s always going to have something in it for either spin or seam on the final day. They made the most out of it and we just didn’t apply ourselves anywhere near correctly. If we look at it there was a couple of good balls in there but in terms of application and in terms of dismissals there were a lot of soft dismissals, but credit to them they toiled away and actually it was more about character than probably skill in the end and yeah, they got the better of us unfortunately.

“There’s no doubt Matthew Quinn can probably hold his head up the highest out of the whole of our team really this week. He was absolutely exceptional with the ball, he toiled in, going at two an over the whole time practically and then with the bat there he showed the application that was required from everyone really. He was one of the two that got a snorter and we just weren’t quite good enough to get over the line.

“Eight minutes or whatever It was … you go back to losing five for 30 in that first innings and we just didn’t put our foot on the throat and press. It’s incredibly disappointing as you can probably tell and we’re in a bit of a dog fight now.

“It’s a case of character and how we apply ourselves and do the dirty work when it’s tough really. This is proper four-day cricket and it hasn’t been like this probably my whole career if I’m honest. This is where you see skill and character come to the fore because of these good cricket wickets, it’s a battle of attrition. Nothing much can happen for the first two days and then all of a sudden things can happen quickly. It’s about the team that can battle collectively that will come out on top and we came out second best today.

“Matt Henry arriving will be a huge boost, character-wise as well. For me it’s an exciting addition and a really good boost for the group. We all know how well he went last time, we’re not expecting him to to do the same again but you know with him he’ll leave absolutely everything out there and he’s one of the most liked guys that we’ve ever had at this club. It’s a really important addition at a really important time, so I’m looking forward to getting him in the group and pressing forward.”

Day Three Report:

A tense final day could be in store in the LV= Insurance County Championship at Canterbury, where Northamptonshire lead Kent by 252, having reached 284-5 at stumps, aided by an unbeaten 101 from Ryan Rickelton.

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On a see-sawing day at The Spitfire Ground, Kent were all out for 335, adding just 48 to their overnight score for a modest lead of 32. Jack White took four for 62 and Ben Sanderson four for 63, while Jordan Cox was the top scorer with 72.

The hosts then reduced Northamptonshire to 64 for three, but a stand of 158 between Rickelton and Jimmy Neesham batted them out of immediate danger. Neesham’s 91 came from just 100 balls.

Cox was the first man to go for Kent when they resumed batting on Day Three, having added just nine to his overnight score of 63 when he left a straight one to White and was bowled.

George Linde then edged a Sanderson delivery through the slips for the four that put Kent in the lead but it was his only scoring shot as he nicked the same bowler behind in his next over.

Grant Stewart went for seven, hooking Sanderson to White at fine leg and when Sam Billings edged White to Ricardo Vasconcelos at first slip for 44, he repeatedly jabbed his bat into the ground in frustration.

Matt Milnes then holed out to Sanderson and was caught by Josh Cobb for four.

Northamptonshire slashed Kent’s lead to five by the Lunch interval, but they lost Emilio Gay soon after, when he got a leading edge to Grant Stewart and was caught by Ben Compton.

Stewart then snared Vasconcelos, who was the victim of a tumbling catch by Billings for 19 and with Luke Procter suffering from a foot injury, Rob Keogh was the next man in. When he was given out caught behind for 13, trying to hook Daniel Bell-Drummond, Northamptonshire were in deep trouble but Rickelton and Neesham turned the game with a stand that lasted over two hours.

While Rickelton paced himself, Neesham thrashed his way past 50 before eventually getting caught and bowled by Joe Denly nine runs short of a debut hundred.

Josh Cobb then came in for a quickfire innings of 26, which ended when Zak Crawley held a sharp slip catch off Linde, before Rickelton reached three figures just before the close with a straight drive off Stewart for two and while all results remain possible, the visitors will be far happier at the end of day three than they were at the start of it.

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Kent’s Daniel Bell-Drummond said: “If we can try and do what they did to us today, get five wickets before Lunch and get chasing around 300 it would obviously be a very good game.

“We were pretty positive coming into today, but those things happen and we’ve just got to go and do it to them tomorrow. They collapsed in their first innings so it’s potentially one of those wickets where if you keep the dots up and dry them up then wickets could potentially fall in a heap.

“Grant bowled really well, credit to him, he’s a very skilful bowler and he made two huge breakthroughs for us. To get them 60 for two of whatever it was we were definitely in the game but Neesham played a good knock for them with Rickelton.

“Whatever the target is ultimately we respect them, they’re a very good team, they won’t make it easy for us and we’ve got to get the breakthrough tomorrow morning to make the win a possibility.”

Day Two Report:

Kent were 287 for five after Day Two of their LV= Insurance County Championship game with Northamptonshire at Canterbury, trailing by 16 with five first innings wickets remaining.

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Hefty partnerships of 91 between Joe Denly and Ben Compton and then exactly 100 between Jack Leaning and Jordan Cox helped Kent close in on Northamptonshire’s first innings score of 303.

Cox was unbeaten on 63 at stumps, while Denly and Leaning also both made 63.

Jack White had the visitors’ best bowling figures with two for 40.

Having dismissed Northamptonshire with the final delivery on Day One, for a total they felt was around 150 to 200 below par, Kent were confident going into the second day, but any hopes that Zak Crawley might find some form after his struggles with England were dashed in the fourth over, when he was out for five, chipping White to Luke Procter at mid-wicket.

Daniel Bell-Drummond had looked comfortable, but when he nicked Jimmy Neesham to Emilio Gay at second slip for 17 Kent were wobbling on 30 for two.

Ben Compton and Denly responded with a stand of 91 for the third wicket. It was a partnership of contrasting styles, with the former England player Denly’s innings initially seeming like it could end at any second, while the possible future-England player Compton’s felt like it might never end at all.

Denly was nearly out first ball, but his shot just eluded mid-wicket, while Compton took 85 minutes to reach double-figures.

Kent were 74 for two at lunch, after which Denly looked significantly happier. He reached 50 by cracking successive Neesham deliveries for four and six and it was Compton who went first, caught at first slip by Neesham for 34 after edging White.

Denly followed soon after, clipping Procter straight to Emilio Gay at midwicket and juggling his bat in frustration as he walked off, leaving Kent on 136 for four.

Leaning and Jordan Cox took the hosts to 181 for four at Tea, after which the latter survived a run out appeal following a direct hit from Ryan Rickelton. Leaning passed 50 when he pulled Rob Keogh for four to the deep-midwicket boundary but after completing their century stand he fell to the new ball when he was caught behind off Ban Sanderson.

Although the wicket temporarily slowed the scoring rate, Cox reached his half-century by swatting a short-pitched ball from Neesham for a single and Sam Billings played some elegant shots on his way to an unbeaten 24 at stumps, the duo completing the third fifty partnership of the innings in the final over.

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Kent’s Joe Denly said: “We’re in a pretty strong position, obviously tomorrow morning’s going to be big for us if we can get through that opening period with the two set batters. Hopefully they can kick on and we can put them under pressure in the second innings.

“It was nice to get some partnerships going, but it would have been nice to kick on and make them even bigger. Myself and Jack getting to 50 and then getting out was disappointing. On a fairly decent wicket you’d like to capitalise on those starts, but like I said we’ve got two quality batters at the crease in Jordan Cox and Sam Billings, so hopefully there’s a big score from one or both of them.

“When you lose the toss, to bowl a team out for 300 on a good batting wicket was a fantastic effort. Now the challenge is to go on and bat big, get a lead and put their batters under pressure.”

Day One Report:

Northamptonshire are all out for 303 against Kent, after a fluctuating first day in the LV= Insurance County Championship match at Canterbury.

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Emilio Gay hit 112 after the visitors lost Ricardo Vasconcelos to the first ball of the day and Ryan Rickelton was the next highest scorer with 55, but having reached 205 for two, they lost their next eight wickets for 98 runs.

Matt Milnes had Kent’s best bowling figures with three for 47, while Joe Denly took two for 31 and Matt Quinn two for 51.

The 170th Canterbury Cricket Week began with the temperature already over 25 degrees in the shade and in the day’s least surprising development, Northamptonshire chose to bat after winning the toss.

The pitch, however, didn’t look benign early on. Vasconcelos went for a platinum duck when he was caught behind off Quinn and Rickelton and Gay then endured a torrid hour, during which they struggled to score at over two an over. Both survived, however, and as the session ground on, the runs came more freely, leaving the visitors on 95 for one at Lunch.

An elegant cover drive off Milnes took Rickelton to 50 just after the restart, but he then edged the same bowler behind.

It was otherwise a session of few chances. Luke Procter was dropped at leg slip when on 12 off Linde and Gay reached his century with a glanced two off George Linde, but he fell in the penultimate over before Tea. Kent skipper Sam Billings threw the ball to occasional red-ball spinner Joe Denly and his second ball was pulled to Linde at mid-wicket, leaving Northants on 206 for three at the interval.

Denly struck again soon after the resumption, getting Procter caught and bowled for 33 and Jack Leaning then bowled Rob Keogh for six.

The new ball accounted for Josh Cobb who went for nine. He tried to cut Milnes and was caught by Ben Compton at point.

Milnes then splayed Jimmy Neesham’s off and middle stumps, bowling him for 33, before Quinn bowled Lewis McManus for four.

Ben Sanderson made 23 from 18 balls before he edged Grant Stewart and fell to a juggling catch by Billings and George Linde wrapped up the innings by bowling Simon Kerrigan for seven with the final ball of the day, leaving Jack White unbeaten on six.

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Kent Bowling Coach Simon Cook said: “We’re very happy, we wanted to bat first. The wicket’s a good pitch so to bowl a team out on it for 300 really puts us in the box seat. I think the encouraging thing about this innings is that we’ve done it in stages throughout the season. We’ve had good first sessions and good second sessions, but maybe the last session’s let it slip whereas this day showed really good first class bowling throughout and you reap the rewards at the end of the day.

“We kept it tight, went past the outside edge numerous times and we had a number of lbw decisions which were close but not given. The guys just kept going and didn’t get frustrated. They applied the same pressure and you see at the end of the day they lost seven for 97 I think in that session and really handed us a golden opportunity to force our way into the game.

“On good wickets sometimes you have to be a bit innovative with your field settings. You do have to use bowlers in short spells (in these conditions) and spread it around a bit. Joe Denly and Jack Leaning did a lot of bowling as well as the usual bowlers so you have to spread the load a little bit, but there was no let up of that pressure. Everyone knew their role and knew how to execute it.

“We’ve a lot about how the pitches have been pretty flat and there should be no fear about losing games of cricket, certainly batting here where the wickets are so good and the batters are in such good form.”

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