Match Report: Leicestershire Foxes vs. Kent Spitfires

Match Report: Leicestershire Foxes vs. Kent Spitfires

Kent Spitfires faced Leicestershire Foxes at the Uptonsteel County Ground in a Royal London Cup Quarter Final.

Tight bowling after an impressively solid batting display saw Kent beat Leicestershire by 81 runs & qualify for a Royal London Cup Semi Final against Hampshire next week.

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Half centuries from Joey Evison, Ben Compton & captain Joe Denly, along with a typically boisterous cameo from Darren Stevens, saw Kent to a score that looked around par on a good wicket at the Uptonsteel County Ground.

In reply Scott Steel made a solid half-century at the top of the Leicestershire order, but though Wiaan Mulder made a superb 81 off just 71 balls, once the South African was dismissed the pressure was too much for the Foxes’ tail.

Once regular opponents, it had been 12 years since these counties met in List A cricket. Denly made 39 in Kent’s victory that day, & the Kent captain found himself shaking hands with Mulder at the Toss, Leicestershire’s South Africa international  – & himself a former Kent player, taking over leadership duties from Lewis Hill, ruled out after being struck on the hand while batting in the nets the previous day. Sam Evans came in for Hill, otherwise both sides were unchanged from their final group games.

Mulder’s decision to bowl was based on the hope the pitch might still have a little moisture in it, but although Chris Wright & Beuran Hendricks bowled accurately, neither found much movement, either through the air or off the pitch.

Evison & Compton started steadily, before Evison, who came close to signing for Leicestershire before signing for Kent, showed what the Foxes have lost, hitting Wright for three boundaries in an over, & then, when Louis Kimber was introduced into the attack at the end of the first powerplay, clubbing the occasional off-spinner for three straight sixes.

Leicestershire had taken the gamble of not playing a fifth bowler, & it looked as though it was going to backfire, but Mulder turned to another part-time off-spinner in Steel, & the former Durham man obliged when Evison, having gone to his 50 off 50 deliveries, went down on one knee to sweep, missed, & was given out leg before.

Ollie Robinson, dropped by Arron Lilley at slip off Steel on 4, looked set to make Leicestershire pay, racing to 27 only to sky an attempt to hit Wright through the off-side, Kimber taking the catch at extra cover. Compton, however, continued to accumulate, & with Denly hitting the ball cleanly from the off, Kent reached 172-2 in the 31st over before Compton was bowled by Mulder, his bails trimmed by a fine delivery.

Denly became the third Kent batter to reach 50, in his case off 41 deliveries, but he lost Alex Blake, who missed a slog at Ed Barnes, & Denly himself went soon afterwards for 65, clothing a drive at Barnes into the hands of Steel at extra cover.

The arrival of Darren Stevens was greeted with warm applause from both sets of supporters, & though he quickly lost Grant Stwart, hooking Wright to Hendricks at long leg, the Leicester-born Kent stalwart gave yet another demonstration of his remarkable hitting ability, clubbing Barnes over The Meet as he raced to 41 off just 24 balls.

The return of Hendricks & Wright slowed the scoring rate however, & once Stevens had been caught at deep midwicket off Hendricks, it took a useful cameo from Harry Finch, who hit 18 off the final over, bowled by Mulder, to take the Kent score up to 325-8.

Leicestershire’s reply began solidly enough, Nick Welch looking in good touch in hitting four boundaries, & it may have been over-confidence on the part of the Zimbabwe-born batter which saw him crack Podmore’s short wide first delivery straight into the hands of Finch at backward point. Rishi Patel followed in the same over, Podmore nipping a delivery back through his defences & on to the top of middle stump, to leave Leicestershire on 48-2 at the end of the first powerplay.

Kimber, who has batted destructively for Leicestershire in this competition, duly drove his first delivery over mid-off to the boundary, but he too was bowled by a Podmore delivery which came back between bat & pads. Steel dug in, but Stevens bowled cannily & overs 18 to 25 yielded only 17 runs to the home team’s cause. TRying to accelerate, Steel ramped a six & a four off consecutive deliveries from Nathan Gilchrist, but than tried to loft the next delivery over cover & holed out to mid-off.

Lilley came & went quickly, but while Mulder was there Leicestershire had a chance. The all-rounder passed 50 for the fourth time in the competition, along with a century, but Evison came back & produced a delivery which stayed low & bowled the South African off the inside edge. From 214-5 Leicestershire subsided, Stewart picking up four wickets to complete a comfortable victory.

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Kent all-rounder Darren Stevens: “We thought the pitch would get a bit lower and slower and we were a bit fortunate to get Mulder, the ball that got him hit the base of the stumps when he was playing as well as anybody had, but that’s the way it goes.

“It’s been all about finding a bit of momentum in this competition, and in the last three games that’s what we’ve done – everybody chipping in, making a contribution, and we’re on the up, which is what you want going in to a Semi Final.

“Hampshire got the wool on us earlier this season at Beckenham, but there were one or two moments in that game when it might have gone our way. The pressure is different in a semi-final compared to the group stages, and we’ll see what happens when we go down there.”

Ollie Robinson supporting Rainbow Laces weekend at Leicester

In the spirit of Raising The Game, Rainbow Laces weekend gives your club a chance to make a public commitment to making cricket a game for everyone.

Celebrating Rainbow Laces helps to create a more welcoming environment in cricket for the LGBTQ+ community, including fans, players, officials, volunteers who don’t currently feel they can be themselves.

By embracing diversity, sport can drive societal change and take important steps to eradicate discrimination wherever it exists.

Cricket has already made progress on these issues, but there is much more to be done. Taking small steps can often have a huge impact.

View Rainbow Laces Toolkit

The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence will once again host a full England Women’s One-Day International (WODI) match in 2022, with a Royal London WODI against India under the lights in Canterbury on Wednesday, 21 September.

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