Match Report: Kent vs. Northamptonshire

Match Report: Kent vs. Northamptonshire

Kent’s Men’s First XI began their LV= Insurance County Championship campaign at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence for the first time since 2017, with Northamptonshire their first opponents of the 2023 season.

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Day Four Report:

Ben Compton’s unbeaten 114 helped Kent to a seven-wicket victory over Northamptonshire in the LV= Insurance County Championship at Canterbury.

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Compton produced a crucial stand of 167 with Jack Leaning, who made 67 not out, as Kent recovered from 60 for three to successfully chase down a target of 227, the hosts closing on 227 for three.

Earlier Rob Keogh had scored 116 not out and Gareth Berg 56 as Northamptonshire posted 331 in their second innings, the duo sharing a stand of exactly 100 that set up an initially taut run chase. Joey Evison had Kent’s best bowling figures with 4-62.

The visitors had looked heavy underdogs at the end of day two, when they were still 58 behind with eight second innings wicket remaining, but after batting through Saturday they began the final morning on 300 for seven, 195 in the lead. Although Kent polished off the tail relatively quickly, the additional 31 runs Northamptonshire stockpiled ensured a jittery couple of hours for the home fans, until Compton and Leaning bedded in.

Berg reached 50 from the second ball of the morning, with a single off Michael Hogan, but the bowler took revenge in his next over, sending Berg’s middle stump flying.

Joey Evision wrapped up the innings with two quick lbws, removing Jack White for 7, then getting Chris Tremain for a duck.

It was a target that looked some way off when Zak Crawley had his stumps splayed by Tremain, having made just three. Daniel Bell-Drummond responded with a rapid 32 from 31 balls but Berg then ripped out his off stump and when Tremain then bowled Joe Denly for five, Kent still needed 167.

Compton’s initial caution faded after he reached 50 by pushing White through the covers for four. He was nearly out on 53 when he edged Keogh just past Ricardo Vasconcelos at thirst slip and he responded with a reverse-swept four.

Leaning’s diligence meant Kent were on a far healthier-looking 158 for three at tea and he subsequently nudged a single off White to bring up his half-century.

On Easter Sunday last year Compton had scored 115 in a heroic but doomed rearguard action against Lancashire. This time round he swept Keogh to fine leg for four to reach three figures and the victory was confirmed shortly afterwards when Leaning scrambled a single off the same bowler.

Kent take 19 points, Northamptonshire three.

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Kent centurion Ben Compton said: “There was a lot riding on that, especially considering last time we played Northants here there was a similar scenario on day four when it went down to the wire, so we’re very chuffed that we could get over the line.

“It was a fantastic team performance. There are a lot of waves in this game, a lot of ebbs and flows and I thought we started really well in the first innings with the ball and Zak set things up beautifully for us. Their second innings was a bit of a toil and that’s what happens in four-day cricket. They batted really well and credit to them.

“That was the kind of wicket it was, you just had to show application. You had to be patient. We’re obviously very chuffed and it was an all-round team performance, so we’re very happy with that.

“Jack and I set very small targets. If you break things down they become a lot easier to achieve so said the next ten runs or the next ten overs. If you set small targets and you chip away at things the innings flows naturally from there. Credit to them, they stuck hard and they bowled well. It was hard work. It was slow scoring and you had to be patient.

“It was a good game of classical four-day cricket. It was a long winter so it was great to get time in the middle at this time of year and you’ve got to enjoy the runs when you get them because opening the batting’s tough. You can get out early so when you do get a start it’s important to kick on.

“Personally I felt well-seasoned in terms of cricket. I spent a couple of months in Zimbabwe, which was fantastic, I had a good five or six games out there and then I spent sometime in Cape Town for about three weeks, so I had a lot of cricket over the winter. We’re very grateful that we had the freedom to go and play. The difference lies in the Dukes ball the slightly slower wickets, the ‘nibblier’ wickets. That all takes quite a lot of adjusting to, so you try and be humble and work hard to get in.

“I think the hundred was very much a consequence (of the match situation.) It wasn’t something I thought about to be honest. It was a bit of a tense moment when Jack first came in. It can go one of two ways in that situation, so it was very much about setting small targets as I said earlier. You just stick with that and see where it takes you. Obviously I’m very pleased to get a hundred, but it was fantastic that it was in a winning cause.”

Day Three Report:

Rob Keogh hit a century as Northamptonshire clawed their way back into contention on Day Three of their LV= Insurance County Championship game with Kent at Canterbury.

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Keogh’s unbeaten 101 helped the visitors to 300 for seven at stumps, a lead of 195, thwarting Kent’s hopes of wrapping up a victory inside three days.

Hassan Azad was the next highest scorer with 51, while Gareth Berg was unbeaten on 49 when play was abandoned for the day due to bad light.

Daniel Bell-Drummond had Kent’s best bowling figures with two for 42, but it was a frustrating day for the hosts, after bowlers had dominated on Days One and Two.

Conditions were cold and overcast when the visitors resumed on 47 for two in their second innings, still 58 behind, but a pitch that had previously misbehaved seemed to have flattened out and with Grant Stewart unable to bowl after picking up an injury, the visitors put together a succession of partnerships.

Azad and Luke Procter steadily eroded the lead and after 90 minutes of the morning session the latter pulled Quinn through square leg to reach his half-century and put Northamptonshire ahead, only to be out lbw to the next ball.

Procter then fell to Daniel Bell-Drummond’s second ball, chipping it to square leg where he was caught by a sprinting Joe Denly, for 38.

Bell-Drummond then struck again to get Josh Cobb caught behind for 12, leaving Northamptonshire wobbling on 137 for five at Lunch. At that point the lead was just 32, but Lewis McManus hung around for an hour of the afternoon session before he nicked Joey Evison behind for 14.

Keogh reverse-swept Jack Leaning for four to reach 50 and he put on 32 with James Sales before the latter nicked Leaning to Sam Billings for eight.

By tea the lead was 138, with Gareth Berg joining Keogh for a stand that exasperated the home crowd. Keogh reached three figures when he drove Hogan through mid-off for two and with 15 overs remaining the umpires sent the players off for bad light, leaving the contest hanging in the balance ahead of the final day.

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Kent’s Bowling Coach Simon Cook said: “It’s delicately poised I think. It’s still in our favour, I think the wicket’s flattening out, there’s been three heavy rollers on it so far and it seems to be deadening out. It was quite lively on day one, but yeah it’s certainly flattened out a bit more.

“There was a good partnership there between Berg and Keogh and they showed that with application you can score runs on it.

“Hopefully that’s going to bode well for us tomorrow. You don’t like to look too far ahead, you try and stay in the moment as much as you can. Going a bowler down (Grant Stewart) in that first session didn’t help, but the likes of Daniel Bell-Drummond and Joey Evison stepped up in particular. Quinny and Hoges led the line and probably bowled quite a few more overs than they expected to, right the way to the end.

“It probably helped us going off at the end there for bad light, but we should be able to hit them hard tomorrow in that first session. Bowling them out for around 220, or 230 would give us quite a nice little chance.

“(Grant Stewart) came off with a with a stiff side, they’re continuing to assess him so we’ll see how he is tomorrow morning.

“That’s what four-day cricket’s about, it’s about character. It’s quite easy  when it’s going well, we say that in the first innings. It’s quite easy to have positive outlooks when you’re taking wickets and getting wickets and going past the outside edge. When wickets do get a bit flatter and it is a bit deader that’s when your character shows and we did that by and large for the whole of the day, particularly with the older ball when it was 50 or 60 overs old and still going past the outside edge.

“The guys are still running in with great heart, they showed real character and that’s what gets you through in games like this. Certainly when they become tighter games, you need those characters to step up.”

Day Two Report:

Zak Crawley hit 91 to leave Kent in a strong position at the end of day two in their LV= Insurance County Championship game with Northamptonshire at Canterbury. The visitors were reduced to 47 for two in their second innings, still trailing by 58 at stumps.

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A bumper crowd of over 1,300 witnessed County Championship cricket on the first day of the Bank Holiday Weekend, following the Club’s Pay what you can offer on tickets, which were available from only £1.

Crawley was by some distance the top scorer in a game otherwise dominated by the bowlers. Chris Tremain took five for 44 and Jack White four for 57 as Kent were all out for 222, while earlier Matt Quinn took 4-25 as Northamptonshire were bowled out for 117 in their first innings.

Only 26 overs were bowled on Day One and although the weather had improved drastically when Northamptonshire resumed on 89 for seven, batting didn’t seem any easier as Quinn struck with the second ball of the morning, getting James Sales lbw for five.

Gareth Berg went down fighting, hitting three successive fours off Michael Hogan and he put on 32 with Tremain, but the highest partnership of the innings ended when Quinn had the latter caught behind for 9. With his next delivery Quinn bowled White for a golden duck, leaving Berg stranded on 21.

Kent’s openers Ben Compton and Crawley put on 42 for the first wicket, but the former was caught behind for 25, leaving the hosts on 50 for one at lunch.

The Spitfires advanced to 90 for one when Tremain revived the visitors with two wickets in three balls.

Daniel Bell-Drummond fell for 27 to a steepling catch by Josh Cobb at short fine leg and Joe Denly was lbw for a second-ball duck.

Crawley steered Kent into the lead and reverse-swept Rob Keogh to reach 49, before pulling the same bowler to backward square leg for three to reach his half-century, but White then responded with two quick wickets.

Jack Leaning was lbw for 26 before Jordan Cox edged the third ball he faced down the leg side to Lewis McManus for five.

Kent had moved to 192 for five at tea and Crawley looked set to reach three figures when he misjudged a Tremain delivery and Berg took a lofted catch in the covers. Joey Evison then edged White behind for five and Grant Stewart was caught behind off Tremain for a four-ball duck.

With just the tail to bat with, Sam Billings hit out. He was dropped in the deep by Tremain off White and smashed the next ball back over White’s head for six, before he fell in hideous fashion to Tremain, the ball catching the toe of his raised bat before it looped to McManus. Hogan was dropped in the slips off the next ball and he cracked the four that steered the Kent lead past three figures before the innings was concluded when White had Quinn lbw for 2.

Quinn had Ricardo Vasconcelos caught by a leaping Compton for four and Evison had Sam Whiteman caught behind for 12, but mildly farcical scenes ensued as the floodlights came on at 19:00, with batters Hassan Azad and Luke Procter apparently keen to leave the field.

After a lengthy discussion in the middle, play continued with Kent bowling their spinners Leaning and Denly for an over each, but no further wickets fell.

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Kent’s Zak Crawley said: “I was just trying to play every ball on it merits and they bowled really well, they didn’t give us much to score from. As I got in I tried to push on and score a bit more quickly, but they bowled pretty well all day to be honest and we ended up getting 222 when we could have got 300 and put the game to bed, but we’re in a good position.

“It was tough to start and once you get in you never feel that you can score quickly. I never felt that I could just hit through the line like on some other pitches, there’s definitely a ball with everyone’s name on it, there’s enough in there for the bowlers.

“It’s a question of not letting them score too many runs, we’ll try and set aggressive fields and get a few nicks. We don’t want to be too defensive. If you bowl the exact same ball twice ones going to go dead straight and the other’s going to nick. It’s just one of those pitches that comes out of nowhere.

“Sometimes when it’s doing more you’ve got to score quicker, you’ve got to put them under pressure a bit more. That’s what we’re trying to do at England, that’s the style that England want to play so they want to see people in county cricket who can play the same way.

“I think I naturally score quite quickly, that’s my natural game. I think it’s something I’ve got carried away with in recent times. I scored quickly after I had that period of slowness at the beginning, from 20 to 90 I must have been at a 75 strike rate I reckon, so I’ve just got to bide my time a bit more. There was a nice turn out today and it’s always good to score runs for Kent. I was pleased with score and I’d have taken it if offered at the start of the day.

“I think we’ve played well so far, we’re definitely on top. The pitch is slow and it’s not easy to score quickly, there’ enough in there for the bowlers so, we’ll see how it pans out tomorrow. The weather makes a big difference with the pitch, so hopefully it’s a bit overcast tomorrow.”

Day One Report:

Kent reduced Northamptonshire to 89 for seven on a rain-affected first day in the LV= Insurance County Championship at Canterbury.

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Grant Stewart took three for six and Michael Hogan two for 36 as the Spitfires exploited damp and dark conditions to leave the visitors deep in the mire at the end of a truncated evening session.

Ricardo Vasconcelos was Northamptonshire’s top scorer with 39, but he fell in the only over bowled after Tea before play was abandoned due to bad light.

Heavy overnight rain at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence wiped out the morning session, but the home side were clearly the happier after winning the Toss and rattling through Northamptonshire’s top order during the 26 overs that were possible.

When play finally got underway at 14:15, the visitors initially scored rapidly. Vasconcelos drove the first ball of the day, from Matt Quinn, for four and they cantered to 26 without loss, until Hogan trapped Hassan Azad lbw for seven in the sixth over.

In the next over Quinn sent Sam Whiteman’s middle stump flying for just a single and both first-change bowlers then took wickets with their first deliveries.

Joey Evison struck with the first ball of the 12th over, getting Luke Procter caught by Ben Compton at square leg for eight and Stewart then had Rob Keogh caught behind for three at the start of the 16th.

Stewart subsequently took a superb return catch to dismiss Josh Cobb for seven, clinging on to a violent drive at ankle height, before he had Lewis McManus caught behind for five.

Tea was originally scheduled for 16:10 but with light deteriorating the session was curtailed three minutes early.

Vasconcelos fell lbw to Hogan to the fourth ball after an extended interval, leaving James Sales and Gareth Berg as the out batters on five and three respectively when play was abandoned for the day.

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Kent’s Grant Stewart said: “It was a nice way to get into the season (taking a wicket with his first ball) but everyone bowled beautifully today and hopefully we’ll back it up over the next few days. You never know until both teams bat, but it’d be nice to start with a win.

“It’s always pleasing, but the job’s not done yet. It’s a pretty bowler friendly wicket and probably they would have looked to bowl first if they’d won the toss. You try to be consistent and let that wicket help you out a bit. I think all five of us that bowled today did that and we were well supported in the field.

“It’s possible there’s something in in for the batters. They’ve got a fairly good bowling attack too so it’ll be tough work, but you just play the ball on its merit, you don’t want to have any preconceptions. And I think the style of play that a lot of our batters have they’ll look to put pressure on. It’ll be exciting to see how it goes tomorrow.

“To finally get outside was great and everyone enjoyed themselves today. Funnily enough my hands didn’t hurt (after catching Cobb). It just went straight into the middle of them, I think it was self-preservation more than anything else. It was a good wicket to get as he can be pretty dangerous, so we were lucky to get that one.”

Kent Cricket has confirmed an exciting ticket offer to give the Kent community an opportunity to see their cricket team in County Championship action during the upcoming Bank Holiday weekend.

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Titled ‘Pay what you can’, supporters will be able to purchase tickets for as little as £1 for the Good Friday Bank Holiday, 7 April – Day Two of Kent vs. Northamptonshire.

Whether you are a keen follower of cricket or never been to a cricket match before & are looking for something to do with the family over the Bank Holiday weekend, everyone is welcome.

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