Match Report: Kent vs. Worcestershire

Match Report: Kent vs. Worcestershire

Kent took on Worcestershire in the Vitality County Championship at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence.

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Day Four Report:

Kent survived some occasional alarms to batten down the hatches and bat out a draw with Worcestershire on the final day of their Vitality County Championship at Canterbury.

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The captains shook hands just after five o’clock, with Kent on 146 for four in their second innings, still 65 runs behind Worcestershire’s mammoth first innings core of 618 for seven declared.

Ben Gibbon claimed two for 38, but the visitors used nine different bowlers during Kent’s second innings and failed to break down some stiff middle order resistance, spearheaded by Harry Finch who was unbeaten on 48.

Earlier Jack Leaning made an unbeaten 179 as Kent were all out for 407 in their first innings, still 211 behind, with Joe Leach taking three for 37 and Matthew Waite three for 51.

A draw was widely expected before the start of play, after three days that begged a number of questions.

There are many worse places to be than The Spitfire Ground on day four of a meandering County Championship game. Worcestershire didn’t bowl at all badly, but took just six wickets during the whole of day three. Kent’s analysts said their bowlers were hitting exactly the same lengths they’d hit during the win at Old Trafford, but it took them five sessions to take seven poles.

The visitors needed an early breakthrough but Nathan Gilchrist lasted for nearly an hour on his way to 12, before he eventually tried to hook Joe Leach and was caught, at the third attempt, by Matthew Waite on the square leg boundary, perhaps lured by some inventive field settings.

When Kashif Ali bowled Matt Parkinson for two to wrap up the innings, Leaning was left unbeaten after a 403-ball innings that lasted nine-hours and 48 minutes, the second-longest recorded innings by time in Kent history after David Fulton’s ten and a half hours vs Yorkshire at Maidstone in 1998.

There were still 73 overs remaining however and the loss of Zak Crawley early in Kent’s second innings suggested the game might yet flicker into life.

Crawley lasted 15 balls before Jason Holder had him caught behind, leaving the England man with just 67 runs from six sub-optimal county innings this season.

It was 18 for one at lunch, during which the temperature dropped and clouds emerged. Gibbon then strangled Compton down the leg side for 11 and Nathan Smith had Joe Denly lbw for 10, reducing Kent to three for 36 with 55.4 overs remaining.

Daniel Bell-Drummond and Harry Finch calmed home nerves by surviving till tea, at which point it was 104-3 but visiting hopes flared again when Gibbon clean bowled the former, off-stump, for 41.

Joey Evison joined Finch however and took the sting out of the contest, batting for nearly an hour and facing 47 balls on his way to an unbeaten eight.

When the occasional leggie Rob Jones became the ninth bowler Worcestershire to try and break through it was a sign the end was nigh and the teams eventually shook hands with potentially 16 overs remaining.

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Kent’s Harry Finch said: “It was quite good fun, it was enjoyable but you don’t really want to be in those sorts of situations at the end. Daniel (Bell-Drummond) is great to bat with and I think he’s the leading run scorer now, but the main thing for me was to keep your intent up and keep looking to score because obviously if we got past them we could drag the game out.

“On a personal note I was frustrated with how I got out in the first innings, I was trying to force it and it wasn’t really that sort of wicket, it was about staying patient and waiting for the ball to come into your area. He did that all day and had a bit of dodgy hand, so the way he gutsed it out and kept batting was unbelievable.

“There were a few nerves floating around. We knew we were going to get put back in and then you’re naturally nervous or excited or whatever you want to call it, there’s a little bit of relief but in that’s situation it’s more that we’ve come away with a positive.”

“Worcestershire were outstanding. They come into this game in an incredibly difficult situation and one we all sympathised with. We weren’t sure how they were going to be this week and I thought they were unbelievable. It was very emotional on that first day, and the skill they showed this week was really, really good.

“For us it was a really good rear guard action. We still managed to get 410 and on any other day you’d take that.”

Day Three Report:

A dogged 152 from Jack Leaning gave Kent a fighting chance of saving their Vitality County Championship match with Worcestershire at Canterbury, steering them to 362 for eight at stumps.

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The hosts still trail by 256 after an attritional third day, but Jack Leaning batted through all three sessions and Beyers Swanepoel made 54 on his debut to boost their hopes of grinding out a draw on day four.

Matthew Waite took three for 51 but on a wicket that offered little joy for the bowlers, Worcestershire took just six wickets during a sapping day in the field.

Kent began day three on 111 for two and were untroubled for the first half hour. Leaning reached 50 for the first time in 11 first-class innings when he cut Smith through backward point for two, but Waite then produced a twin jab that briefly left them reeling. He bowled Daniel Bell-Drummond for 67, clipping his off stump with a straight one, then had Joe Denly lbw after just four balls.

Leaning and Harry Finch steadied the ship, steering Kent to 179 for four at lunch, but after surviving for 106 balls Finch tried to drive Waite and was caught at cover by Rob Jones.

That, however, was the visitors only success during the afternoon session. The track and the outfield were both catatonic and this, combined with some coltish Worcestershire fielding, drastically limited the flow of boundaries, with 21 overs passing before the new ball arrived and Joey Evison punched Waite through the covers.

Having batted for exactly five hours, Leaning reached three figures just before tea when he drove Jason Holder through cow corner and although Evison edged both Gibson’s final two balls before tea, neither carried to Holder at slip, leaving the hosts on 250 for five, although it was a short-lived reprieve as he bottom-edged Waite behind in the second over after the resumption and was out for 27.

Leaning and Swanepoel had to resist the urge to go all-out for a second batting point, but they came frustratingly close, falling just three runs short at the 110 over mark. Leaning cracked the first ball of the next over for four.

Swanepoel belied a jittery start and played with increasing fluency, although he rode his luck at times, nearly chopping Holder on to the stumps for the two that saw him reach his half-century, before he was eventually lbw to Brett D’Oliveira in the 122nd.

Leaning passed 150 and the game seemed to be meandering until Kashif Ali gave the visitors some renewed momentum when he bowled Wes Agar for six with the final ball of the penultimate over, to set up a potentially fascinating final day.

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Day Two Report:

Daniel Bell-Drummond & Jack Leaning showed dogged determination to try and turn the tables back towards Kent after Worcestershire declared their first innings total on a benign surface at Canterbury on Day Two of their Vitality County Championship clash.

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Earlier, Jason Holder and Matthew Waite both hit unbeaten centuries as Worcestershire built a lead. Joe Leach then took two early wickets to reduce Kent to 15 for two, before the hosts rallied to finish on 112 for two at stumps, a deficit of 506. Bell-Drummond and Leaning were the not out batters on 54 and 43 respectively.

Earlier Holder was unbeaten on 123 while Waite made exactly 100 before the visitors declared on 618 for seven in their first innings, with Adam Hose contributing 90.

Joey Evison had Kent’s best bowling figures with three for 58, while Matt Parkinson claimed three wickets after bowling for 44.5 overs.

Worcestershire began day two on 308 for five and continued to bat for as long as possible on a wicket that looked like chipboard.

The breakthrough finally came in the 117th over. Evison initially had a shout for lbw against Hose turned down, but the next delivery hit him low on the pad in front of middle.

Rob Jones went for 37 when he swished at Parkinson and was caught by Bell-Drummond at first slip, but it was 424 for seven at lunch and Holder then let loose, undeterred by fields with as many as eight men on the boundary.

Holder glanced Parkinson down the legside for two to reach his half-century and reached three figures with a single off Jack Leaning.

Waite was more measured, hitting just two boundaries on his way to fifty, but the second half of his innings was pyrotechnic. He smacked Parkinson over mid-on for six to reach 99, then scrambled a single to bring up three figures, at which point the visitors finally declared.

Kent’s reply got off to a difficult start when Joe Leach removed Ben Compton with the fifth ball of the innings. Compton initially looked like he’d escaped after edging the ball to third slip, but Jones, having dropped the ball into his lap, then caught it with his legs.

Zak Crawley then recorded his fourth single-digit score in five innings when Leach had him caught down the leg side by a tumbling Gareth Roderick, but Bell-Drummond and Leaning responded with a partnership worth 97. Bell-Drummond reached 50 with a risky single off Brett D’Oliveira, but having seen off the new ball Kent batted sensibly and looked significantly happier at the end of the session than they had at the start.

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Day One Report:

Two late Joey Evison wickets shifted momentum slightly back towards Kent at the end of day one of their Vitality County Championship with Worcestershire at Canterbury.

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The visitors were 308 for five at stumps, with Gareth Roderick hitting 117 from 281 balls, after Kashif Ali had given them a platform with 72. Adam Hose was unbeaten on 50 at stumps, reaching his half-century with a single off Nathan Gilchrist in the final over of the day.

Matt Parkinson took two for 79, but it was largely a torpid day in the field for Kent, huffed and puffed on a benign wicket until Evison’s late two wickets to end the day with figures of two for 39.

The day began in sombre fashion, with an emotive minute’s applause for Worcestershire’s Josh Baker, who died last week at the age of just 20. Both teams wore black armbands and the flags flew at half mast over the Frank Woolley Stand.

A crowd of over 1,000 made the most of the first genuinely warm day of the season at The Spitfire Ground and to no one’s surprise the visitors chose to bat after winning the toss.

Kent’s new overseas signing Beyers Swanepoel generated some early swing, but the hosts’ only victim during the morning session was Jake Libby, who had looked lively on his way to 19 until he was lbw to a Wes Agar delivery so plumb he turned and walked off before the umpire even had time to raise his finger.

It was 94 for one at lunch and although Kent weren’t bowling badly, Roderick and Ali looked largely untroubled. They put on 136 for the second wicket, until the latter began to look jittery against Parkinson, eventually nicking him to keeper Harry Finch.

Brett D’Oliveira got a start, but having almost nicked Parkinson to Daniel Bell-Drummond at the start of the 61st over he went a couple of deliveries later, snared by the Kent captain at first slip for 18. It was 210 for three at tea.

Roderick drove Agar through cow corner to reach 100 but Evison belatedly gave a dwindling number of home supporters something to smile about when he sent his off stump cart-wheeling, before getting the night-watcher Joe Leach lbw for 1 at the end of the penultimate over.

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