Match Report: Northamptonshire vs. Kent

Match Report: Northamptonshire vs. Kent

Northamptonshire hosted Kent in the LV= Insurance County Championship at The County Ground, Northampton.

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Day Four Report:

Kent’s spinners finally overcame a late flourish from the Northamptonshire tail to wrap up an innings victory at Wantage Road and climb to eighth place in the LV= Insurance County Championship Division One table.

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Joe Denly claimed four wickets and Hamid Qadri three as the home side were bowled out for 369 despite an entertaining ninth-wicket stand of 70 between Ben Sanderson and Jack White.

The Northamptonshire pair both registered career-best performances in first-class cricket, with Sanderson hitting 46 before White, batting at number 10, hammered a maiden half-century from 68 balls.

He was last man out for 59 to seal Kent’s first Championship victory since the opening round of the campaign, when they defeated the same opponents by seven wickets at Canterbury.

As they had done for most of the previous afternoon, Kent initially kept faith with an all-spin attack – which paid off after just 10 balls when Denly had Saif Zaib snapped up at short leg without adding to his overnight 43.

Tom Taylor displayed attacking intent, clubbing both Denly and Jack Leaning to the leg-side boundary and Lewis McManus attempted to follow suit as he latched onto a long hop from Qadri, only to pick out the square leg fielder.

Taylor found an unexpected ally in Sanderson, who batted with freedom and rattled up a string of boundaries in their lively partnership of 38, prompting Kent to take the new ball and entrust it to their seamers.

It made little difference to Sanderson, who thrashed Arshdeep Singh twice to the cover fence, but Wes Agar duly provided the breakthrough – albeit in unusual fashion, deflecting Sanderson’s drive onto the stumps to run out Taylor at the non-striker’s end.

However, the eighth-wicket partnership was surpassed by the ninth, with White slamming Denly back over his head for four and unveiling a rarely seen range of shots, including the reverse sweep, to lift Northamptonshire’s total beyond 300.

Sanderson stroked Denly for a couple on the leg-side to bring up the 50 partnership – and the highest score of his 15-year county career – but he missed the opportunity of a maiden half-century, taking a swing at Qadri and edging behind.

White, however, made no such mistake, dispatching the leg-spinner cleanly over the top for a boundary to bring up his personal landmark before Denly finally had him caught behind to seal Kent’s success.

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Kent captain Jack Leaning said: “To get a maximum points win is just the icing on the cake – it carries on that nice run of form we’re on from T20 in the last couple of weeks. Championship wins are always hard-fought and I’m really happy for the boys.

“There was no hiding from the fact this was a game we needed to win. It doesn’t matter what part of the game you contribute to, every contribution makes up to a four-day win and I want us to keep that mentality going forward.

“It was a brilliant toss to lose because I was going to have a bat as well. We managed to bowl them out pretty cheaply on a good wicket and we really made hay with the bat.

“Deebs (Daniel Bell-Drummond) will get all the plaudits, as he should do, but credit to T (Tawanda Muyeye) for his first hundred – he’s really knocked the door down to earn his chance and since he got in the first team, whether it be white or red ball, he’s really taken it on.

“To put 621 on the board is a formidable score – for them to have to get nearly 400 just to get level, we always knew we were going to be able to drive the game.

“No side’s going to roll over and just give up and Northants are a spirited team. We had to fight like hell to get those last few wickets at the end, but that makes it all the sweeter.”

Day Three Report:

Kent’s Daniel Bell-Drummond became Wantage Road’s first visiting triple centurion as his side closed in on an innings victory against Northamptonshire in the LV= Insurance County Championship.

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Bell-Drummond finished unbeaten on exactly 300, registering the fourth-highest individual score in the county’s history after almost nine hours at the crease as the visitors racked up an imposing total of 621.

That left Northamptonshire, whose leg-spinner Alex Russell recorded figures of six for 175 in only his second first-class game, weighed down by a hefty first-innings deficit of 384 as they went out to bat again.

However, spirited half-centuries by Rob Keogh – his second of the match – and skipper Luke Procter maintained their side’s hopes of avoiding defeat as they reached 214 for five, still 170 adrift, before bad light halted play.

Resuming on 271 overnight, Bell-Drummond survived an lbw appeal by Ben Sanderson in the second over of the day and made cautious progress while his partners threw the bat at the other end.

A delicate late cut for two off Russell propelled him beyond John Freeman’s 286 for Essex more than a century earlier – the previous highest score registered by an opposition player at Wantage Road.

However, wickets began to tumble to the young spinner, with Joey Evison lured down the track and stumped for 27 before Hamid Qadri and Wes Agar also perished in pursuit of quick runs.

With Jack White trapping Matt Quinn leg before first ball, Bell-Drummond, on 293, suddenly looked in danger of ending up marooned with a personal landmark tantalisingly close as last man Arshdeep Singh arrived at the crease.

The India international calmly swung his first delivery over long on for two before smashing a couple of boundaries as Bell-Drummond inched closer to 300 – eventually pulling Russell for a single and punching the air with delight and relief.

Having slammed the next ball into the hands of deep midwicket, Arshdeep raced off to lace up his bowling boots as he and Agar hurtled in for a pre-lunch burst at Northamptonshire’s openers.

They removed both before the interval, with Emilio Gay prodding Arshdeep to Jack Leaning at second slip before the skipper’s call for Joe Denly’s leg-breaks paid dividends as Ricardo Vasconcelos departed in the same manner to the final ball of the session.

Sam Whiteman displayed some resistance after lunch, crunching Agar for successive off-side boundaries to reach 28, but Denly tempted him to sweep and the resulting top edge sailed to backward square.

Denly, who remained on throughout most of the afternoon, might have collected a third wicket when Ben Compton was unable to grasp a sharp chance from Keogh at short leg with the right-hander on 18.

Keogh gradually got on top of Kent’s all-spin attack, taking advantage of some wayward Denly deliveries to crack three fours in an over and sweeping Qadri to the square leg fence to bring up his half-century on the cusp of tea.

There was a scare for Keogh when a ball from Qadri lodged in his back pad and then trickled across to rest against the stumps without dislodging a bail, but the spinner got his man soon afterwards for 57, lbw.

That broke the fourth-wicket stand of 80, but Procter progressed to a resolute 50 from 146 balls and, with Saif Zaib going for his shots at the other end, the pair shaved another 51 off the deficit.

Leaning brought himself on to bowl and promptly pinned Procter leg before with his second delivery, but murky overhead conditions forced the players from the field just a few overs later.

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Daniel Bell-Drummond, who became only the third Kent player to score a triple hundred in the Championship and the first visiting player to do so at Wantage Road, said: “It’s an amazing feeling – I’ve never felt like this in my career and I’m still on cloud nine. I’ll definitely have a drink tonight and enjoy the moment. Everyone wants to do it but I never thought it was coming.

“I’m glad I was able to stick to my plans and not give my wicket away. That’s how I grew up playing – I really valued my wicket and I’m glad I was able to do that in this game.

“Yesterday I was more in the zone, head down and really focused on every ball but, speaking to a lot of friends and family and what it meant to them, I was more nervous this morning trying to get the 29 more runs I needed.

“It couldn’t have been a better day for me. Hopefully I’ll move forward with my career now and keep scoring runs in all forms. I’ve had a few tough periods this season and in my career, so I was definitely going to make the most of it.

“Northants bowled well this morning, we lost quite a few wickets in that first hour and it got quite nerve-racking because I had to try and come out of that shell and Arshdeep kept me on my toes as well!

“I felt that maybe if the landmark didn’t come that was my fault, because I wasn’t really going for it. I can’t put that on a no 11, for sure, but it was quite entertaining when he started smashing it! It was funny with hindsight but I was very nervous at the time.

“We’re in a really good position. It was a great effort by the bowlers in the last two sessions of the day so we’re right where we want to be.”

Day Two Report:

Tawanda Muyeye and Daniel-Bell Drummond set batting milestones as Kent dominated on day two of their LV= Insurance County Championship match with hosts Northamptonshire at Wantage Road.

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Muyeye smote a stylish maiden first-class hundred complete with four huge sixes on his way to 179 while the more experienced Bell-Drummond inked in a new career best of 271 not out, eclipsing his 206 not out against Loughborough University at Canterbury seven years ago. Bell-Drummond’s individual tally set a record for a Kent batter at Wantage Road, beating Frank Wooley’s 217 back in 1926.

The pair added 318 for the second wicket as the visitors piled up 550-5 by stumps, a lead of 313.

On what was a tough day for a weary-looking Northamptonshire attack, Alex Russell and Ben Sanderson emerged from the onslaught with two wickets apiece.

Bell-Drummond set the tone, on-driving the first ball of the day back past the stumps for four, but it wasn’t long before Muyeye took centre-stage.

The 22-year-old, who originally arrived on these shores with his mother as an asylum seeker, showed his promise as a schoolboy at Eastbourne where he set records for the number of runs scored (1112) and sixes hit (56) in his first season.

Initially with Sussex, he signed for Kent in 2021, scoring 89 against Middlesex at the end of that season as the hosts chased down a target of 375 in the fourth innings.

Muyeye picked up where he’d left off on day one, using the long levers of his tall slender frame to showcase an elegant technique mixed with power, dismissing a short one from Sanderson to the mid-wicket boundary before despatching long hops from Jack White and Alex Russell to the square leg fence.

A single to deep cover took him beyond that previous career-best against Middlesex and there were no nervous 90s either, a huge six over mid-on taking him to the brink of that maiden hundred which duly came minutes later courtesy of another half-tracker pulled to the fence.

Off came the helmet amid a joyous celebration from a talented young player who’d played with the exuberance of someone enjoying a Sunday afternoon game in the park with his mates. He celebrated the milestone with a glorious straight six off White which raised the 200-stand.

Bell-Drummond was less exuberant, but continued his rich vein of form in June, a 12th four carrying him to three figures in a wicketless first session for the hosts.

The pair forged on after the interval, Muyeye plundering a third six, he’d only hit one in first-class cricket before today. The stand moved beyond 300 and the 2nd wicket record against Northamptonshire of 382 set by Sean Dickson and Joe Denly looked in sight before the youngster mishit Russell into the hands of Sanderson at cover.

Such was the charm with which he’d played, that his departure took some of the sunshine out of the cricket, Denly and Jack Leaning falling cheaply either side of the second new ball, the latter to a sharply spinning delivery from Rob Keogh which bowled him through the gate.

Bell-Drummond though picked up the mantle, a glorious straight drive taking him past his previous Championship-best of 166. His first Championship double hundred complete with 20 fours came soon after tea, and four through mid-wicket off White enabled him to chalk up the new career-best landmark.

Jordan Cox kept him company either side of tea with an ebullient 41 in a stand of 106 before being castled by the persevering Sanderson.

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Kent opener Tawanda Muyeye who got his maiden first class hundred said: “I’m relieved (to get the maiden century). I didn’t know when it was going to come. Obviously I’ve had a few starts, a few 80s, so to put it all together today and be as focused as I was a big thing for me and something to be confident about for the future.

“It has been mentally draining. I was desperate to get into the first team early in the season and used so much brain energy on that. To be able to carry on what I started in the 2s, hopefully I can keep going until September.

“I didn’t get any sleep last night because it was only the second time in my career I’ve been not out overnight. I went to my room at like 7pm hoping to get an early night, but only got to sleep about 3am. I was calmer on the field than in my bed last night.

“There was a message from my mum and I’m going to dedicate this hundred to my uncle who died of Cancer three years ago. It was his tombstone unveiling on Saturday and I could feel his energy around today.

“I’m short of words about Daniel (Bell-Drummond who finished 271 not out). We had so much fun out there. I don’t know how much cricket was being talked about, but it is always a pleasure to bat with him. It was a pretty special knock, and I probably had the best seat in the house for most of it.

“It has been a tough year for him and a lot of the batters so I’m happy for him. For him to come and do that and display such skill was special. He’s got a few more to get tomorrow and hopefully he can get that triple and put us in an even better position.”

Day One Report:

Kent’s Australian international Wes Agar claimed the second five wicket haul of his first-class career to restrict Northamptonshire to a modest 237. It came despite Rob Keogh leading a spirited fightback for the hosts with a fine 97 on day one of this LV= Insurance County Championship match.

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Tawanda Muyeye and Daniel Bell-Drummond (48) took the positive route in response, sharing a confident, attacking unbeaten partnership of 93 as Kent closed on 110 for one in 26 overs. The pair peppered the boundary, Muyeye smashing eight fours and a six, finishing 58 off 82 deliveries.

Keogh fell agonisingly short of a second consecutive century against Kent this season but did well to help his side recover after losing three early wickets to catches in the slip cordon. It created a sense of déjà vu for Northamptonshire fans after a number of similar batting collapses this season but Keogh’s half-century partnerships with Sam Whiteman (40) and Saif Zaib (26) started to swing the momentum back their way.

Agar though was finding prodigious swing, having already removed Whiteman and Ricardo Vasconcelos and he finally ended Keogh’s resistance after 147 balls (13 fours), the first of three wickets in 11 ball for the Australian, including a double wicket maiden. Tom Taylor (35) clubbed six boundaries before he became the third victim for Hamidullah Qadri.

Northamptonshire won the toss and elected to bat first on a used in temperatures of 30 degrees. Agar was soon in the wickets column when he removed Vasconcelos without scoring in the fourth over. Left-arm quick Arshdeep Singh picked up Emilio Gay (15) nine balls later before accounting for skipper Luke Procter (7). All three had fallen to slip catches inside the first 11 overs.

The hosts’ fortunes soon started to improve through a fluent stand of 62 between Sam Whiteman (40) and Keogh.

Keogh took an unbeaten 116 off Kent in the opening game of the season and tucked into their bowling once more. He punched Matt Quinn square for four and greeted Qadri’s arrival with a similar shot before punching him through the covers when the spinner dropped short. He also cut powerfully to the ropes as Northamptonshire reached three figures before lunch.

Whiteman meantime drove Agar authoritatively down the ground for four and was particularly strong off his legs, steering Quinn behind square to the ropes. But with the safety of lunch just four balls away, he lost concentration and flashed at one outside of-stump from Agar with Leaning taking an excellent tumbling catch, his third of the morning, Northamptonshire going into the interval four wickets down.

After lunch Keogh found a new partner in Zaib and they put on 65 in 15 overs. Keogh continued to profit from the cut and backfoot punch, advancing to his half-century off 72 balls. When Arshdeep tested him with a well-directed bouncer he was happy to take that on too, hooking it comfortably for four.

Zaib became Qadri’s first wicket when he backed away and was bowled, attempting a cut. The spinner struck again in his next over when Lewis McManus played down the wrong line and popped a catch up to short leg.

Keogh grew increasingly nervous through the nineties. He survived an lbw shout from Agar and offered an edge which dropped short of the slips. But although he reverse swept Qadri for four to move to 97, Agar got his man next over when he was trapped lbw.

Agar’s next over was a double wicket maiden as he bowled both Ben Sanderson and Jack White without scoring.

Taylor traded some lusty blows, pulling Quinn for four and carving Agar to the ropes, before punching two boundaries off Qadri. His bid to gain Northamptonshire a rare batting bonus though ended when he was caught off Qadri.

When Kent batted, Sanderson struck early to beat Ben Compton’s defences and hit the stumps.

Tawanda Muyeye looked assured, powerfully cutting a short ball from Sanderson for four and playing an exquisite cover drive off Taylor to the ropes. His timing was exemplary but he did play a rare false shot when he top edged an attempted hook, the ball falling just in front of the fielder.

He was soon finding the boundary again, punishing consecutive short balls from Taylor, swotting them disdainfully away to the ropes and smashing Keogh high over deep midwicket for six to bring up his half-century off 69 balls.

Bell-Drummond was timing the ball well too, punching White down the ground and carving him square before playing the same bowler through midwicket for four to bring up the fifty partnership with Muyeye off 93 balls.

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Kent bowler Wes Agar, who took 5-63 said: “It was a great day of cricket for us. Making early inroads helped. I thought Arshdeep [Singh] bowled really well with the new ball.

“For our batters to go in tonight, it’s not easy and I thought Tawanda [Muyeye] and Daniel [Bell-Drummond] played a great innings so far. Hopefully they can continue that tomorrow.

“At times with the Kookaburra ball the game goes a bit slower and it gets a bit flatter. For Hami [Qadri] to come in and break those partnerships by bowling spin on a day one wicket, I think that’s a big tick for his game moving forward.

“Luckily enough we got the ball moving a bit in the air, which was nice and I was able to get some wickets. It’s always nice to have a ball in your hand when it is reversing.”

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See the 2023 One Day Cup winners look to retain their title in two one-day clashes at The County Ground, Beckenham:

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