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Match Report: Somerset vs. Kent

Kent hosted Somerset in the county’s final match of the 2022 LV= Insurance County Championship at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence.

Day Three Report:

On the day after they secured Division One status for another season, Kent thrashed Somerset by an innings and 151 runs the LV= Insurance County Championship at Canterbury.

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Hamid Qadri hit a career-high 87 as Kent made 492 in their first innings, a lead of 290. Although Kasey Aldridge recorded his best first class figures of six for 110, it was a day of pain for Somerset.

Runs flew off the bat during the first hour, but when it was the visitors turn to bat they collapsed to 139 all out, Matt Quinn taking three for 14 and Nathan Gilchrist, Daniel Bell-Drummond and Qadri all taking two wickets apiece.

The result means Kent leapfrog Somerset in the final standings and could finish as high as fifth, having been dogged by the fear of relegation for the second half of the season.

The atmosphere at the Spitfire Ground was the most relaxed it had been all year and although Conor McKerr was removed early on for six, caught at third slip by Tom Abell off Craig Overton, the bowler limped off with an injury soon afterwards and the runs began to flow.

Qadri might be considered as purely a spinner, but he averages over 43 in first class cricket and from his overnight score 27 not out, he raced past 50 with three boundaries off successive Jack Brooks deliveries, the third off which flew inches over the slip cordon.

Gilchrist joined Qadri and put on 48 for the ninth wicket before he was bowled by Aldridge for 14 but Qadri then hit Green for two successive sixes and a four and he eventually fell 13 short of a maiden first class ton when he edged Aldridge behind.

Somerset didn’t even make it to the tea interval, subsiding in 40.4 overs. Ollie Robinson was allowed to lead Kent into the field to mark his final game before leaving for Durham and he caught Andrew Umeed off Quinn for three in the third over.

Qadri then bowled Abell middle stump for five, leaving Somerset on 19 for two at lunch.

Quinn removed George Bartlett for four, caught by Tawanda Muyeye at short midwicket with the fifth ball of the afternoon session and Joey Evison took his maiden first class wicket for Kent when he drew an edge from James Rew, who fell for ten to a sharp catch by Daniel Bell-Drummond at third slip.

Green was then dropped by Jack Leaning off Gilchrist and at this point a West Country voice in the crowd yelled: “Come on Somurrrrset, you’ve kept them up now get on with it!” In the next over Green was caught behind off Bell-Drummond.

When Bell-Drummond then had Tom Lammonby caught by Zak Crawley at first slip for 23, Overton limped on without a runner immediately smacked a four, but he was clearly struggling and Nathan Gilchrist soon sent Aldridge’s off stump cartwheeling for 15.

Gilchrist then had Overton caught by Crawley for a brave 12 and despite some entertaining swinging from Sajid Khan, who made 40 from 19 balls , the victory was confirmed when, having hit Qadri for successive sixes, he tried his luck for a third time and was caught on the boundary by Muyeye.

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Kent’s Matt Walker said: “I think the last two weeks have been incredible, with that sense of backs against the wall. We knew these two games were going to be really critical and to see the fight and desire, and skill on show when it really mattered was exceptional.

“We talk a lot in the dressing room about that character and when it really counts who’s going to put their hand up and I think in these two games everybody’s put their hand up. They’ve been two team performances and that was probably what we’ve lacked a bit this season.

“This week was a different type of win on a different type of surface but I thought it was equally impressive, on a really good cricket wicket. We outplayed a really good Somerset side in three days. It shows that desire is there and that hunger and how people rise to the challenge. To finish like that is great, if we could bottle these last two games, the attitude, skill, belief and confidence and bring that to the start of next season then hopefully we’ll be looking towards the top rather than scrapping at the bottom.”

Kent’s Jack Leaning said: “A few games ago we were obviously in a little bit of strife and we weren’t quite playing our best cricket in the championship, but I think the way the boys in the 50 over comp played so well to win six in row and then go and win the final, I think a lot of that momentum then passed over into the championship last week.

“With the injuries it was a very similar team so it’s amazing what a bit of momentum can do, regardless of the format of the cricket. The boys were pretty confident going into last week, albeit against a strong Hampshire team and then to get the win as a team was probably the most pleasing thing.

“Luckily I lost the toss on the first morning because we were going to bat as well! It’s funny how things work out. The way the boys bowled first out really set the tone for the game, it’s probably an area where we’ve struggled this year with bat and ball in those first couple of sessions and we’ve ended up chasing a lot. It was really pleasing to see Zak play the way he did going into the winter and for Tawanda to get an opportunity to carry on from the way we played the week before.

“I think last week Hampshire really messed up with what they did with the pitch and we took advantage of that. We battled really hard to get ourselves to a score of 150, 160, which was incredibly competitive, as their first innings showed and they way we managed to capitalise second innings and get a big lead, we managed to drive the game again, which is something we didn’t do earlier in the season.”

Kent’s Hamid Qadri said (of his career best innings): “The sky is the limit, I just keep striving forward and work hard with Tendo and Walksie in the nets. I’ve worked hard on my batting over the last couple of winter, so I went out there and had fun. The days when batters could just bat and bowlers could just bowl are over.

“The initial plan was just trying to get through Craig Overton’s spell because he’s their best bowler, and Aldridge. Once we got through that it was about picking the right options and picking the right bowlers, playing a bit smart.

“I think our bowlers just bowled really well, we went at twos in the first and the second innings so huge credit goes to Gilchrist and Quinn.”

Day Two Report:

Kent marked “Stevo Day” at Canterbury by securing survival in Division One of the LV= Insurance County Championship, reaching 405 for seven in reply to Somerset’s 202 all out, a lead of 203.

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Kent already have taken all eight available bonus points and Warwickshire’s declaration against Hampshire at Edgbaston means their relegation rivals can now only overhaul Yorkshire.

The hosts honoured Darren Stevens’ 18-season contribution by announcing they were retiring his number three shirt and his teammates rose to the occasion, with Nathan Gilchrist taking career best figures of six for 61.

Lewis Goldsworthy was Somerset’s top scorer with 94, but he added just a single to his overnight score.

Tawanda Muyeye and Zak Crawley then responded with an opening stand of 176, the former making 85, the latter 79, while in his last match before joining Durham, Ollie Robinson made 52.

Gilchrist had taken two wickets from the final two deliveries before bad light stopped play on day one, leaving Jack Brooks to face the hat-trick ball at the star of the morning session. He survived a hopeful appeal but the visitors had added just seven to their overnight score of 195 for nine when Goldsworthy was caught behind off Gilchrist, six runs short of his hundred.

Kent’s openers belied the freezing conditions and heavy cloud cover, slashing Somerset’s lead to 53 by lunch, Crawley playing with measured brutality and Muyeye whip-cracking elegance. At one point Crawley creamed Tom Lammonby for three successive fours and he reached 50 with a smartly flicked single off Kasey Aldridge, while Muyeye, looking almost regal, reached the same landmark with a scampered single off the same bowler.

Stevens was introduced to a sizable St. Lawrence crowd of 1042 during the interval and shown a montage of his greatest moments, before walking around the boundary for an understated but moving lap of honour, shaking hands with members and posing for selfies.

Somerset were looking desperate after lunch, with Craig Overton yelling “how’s that?” after Muyeye was caught off his shoulder, then screaming “HOW’S THAT?” when he didn’t get the reply he wanted.

However, the partnership was broken with the next ball when Ben Green hit Crawley’s middle stump. Muyeye was caught behind off Aldridge soon afterwards, four short of his highest-first class score.

Daniel Bell-Drummond and Joe Denly put on 61 for the next wicket before the former’s middle stump was sent cartwheeling by Aldridge for 36.

Aldridge claimed his next victim after rain caused an early tea interval, when he had Denly caught on the square leg boundary by Sajid Khan, but another stand between Olli Robinson and Jack Leaning took the lead past 150.

Khan removed both men, getting Leaning caught by Abell for 41 and bowling Robinson in his net over. He then caught Joey Evison off Aldridge for 21, but Hamid Qadri was unbeaten on 27 when bad light stopped play at 5.37pm, having cracked a four to take the score past 400 and earn an eighth bonus point.

With rain falling at the St. Lawrence news came through that their main relegation rivals Warwickshire had declared on 274 for four at Edgbaston, meaning they can get a maximum of 22 points. Even if Kent lose from this position and the sides finish level on points, Kent would stay up having won more games.

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Kent’s Zak Crawley said: “We knew (securing Division One status today) was possible if Warwickshire didn’t get 350, but we thought they were going to get 350, so we were surprised when they declared. It’s obviously great news and everyone’s pretty pleased, but we still want to win this game.

“We definitely want to win, there’s still a chance we can finish fifth which given where we’ve been this year is actually remarkable, but there’s a lot to play for in every game and you try to win no matter what it’s for. We’re still going to play hard and we’re in a good position.

“I don’t think we ever doubted we’d get out of it. I think we knew the talent was here, we just hadn’t put anything together at the start. There were a couple of individuals like Compo and Gilly who started well but apart from that were a bit sporadic with our performances and it seems like as a team we’re starting to put it together towards the back end. Which we normally do actually! If we could start doing this early in the season we’d be a top side.

(On his stand with Tawanda Muyeye) “We tried to show that intent. We kept the good balls out, put the bad balls away and T batted brilliantly for someone so young. To put a good bowling attack like that to the sword was class.”

Day One Report:

Somerset were 195 for nine at stumps on day one of their LV= Insurance County Championship with Kent at Canterbury, after Nathan Gilchrist boosted Kent’s survival hopes with five for 55.

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Lewis Goldsworthy is unbeaten on 93, after almost single-handedly helping the visitors recover from nine for three. Craig Overton was the next highest scorer with 30 and his stand of 65 with Goldsworthy for the sixth wicket looked to have steered the visitors out of danger, until Gilchrist produced a spell of three for nought in nine balls.

Gilchrist was on a hat-trick when bad light and rain stopped play at 17:07, while Matt Quinn has 3 for 32.

The hosts began knowing they needed 10 points to avoid relegation to Division Two. Heavy overnight rain delayed the start at the Spitfire Ground, but play eventually began at noon, with Somerset opting to bat despite heavy cloud cover.

Kent immediately made inroads, Quinn getting Tom Lammonby caught for a duck by Jack Leaning at second slip with the fourth ball of the match. Gilchrist then removed Tom Abell for five, caught by the same fielder and when Andrew Umeed was lbw to Quinn for four Kent had taken just 28 minutes to secure a first bonus point.

It might have been worse for the visitors, but Goldsworthy was put down by Ollie Robinson off Gilchrist and they recovered to 43 for three at lunch.

There was a painful start to the afternoon session, in more than one sense, for George Bartlett. Gilchrist’s second ball hit him amidships and after staggering back to the crease he was caught behind off the next ball.

Conor McKerr was initially denied the wicket of James Rew when he was dropped by Zak Crawley at first slip, but he edged the very next delivery to Daniel Bell-Drummond at third slip and was out for 16.

Ben Green had made 12 when Quinn clipped the top of his middle stump, but an elegant cover drive off Gilchrist took Goldsworthy to his half-century and when Crawley then dropped Overton off Gilchrist Kent were punished, as the visitors responded with their biggest stand of the innings.

Overton was on 27 when Ollie Robinson missed a difficult, one-handed chance off Gilchrist, but he was out in Gilchrist’s next over, his off stump sent flying for 30. Gilchrist then had Kasey Aldridge caught by Robinson for a duck and with his next delivery he pinned Sajid Khan lbw next ball, securing Kent a third bowling bonus point.

With the light deteriorating, Jack Brooks came in to face the hat-trick ball while the umpires were conferring. The game was halted at 5.07pm before Brooks could take guard and when heavy rain then began to fall play was abandoned, forcing Gilchrist to have to sleep on what would be his first ever hat-trick.

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Kent’s Nathan Gilchrist said: “We’ll all very pleased after today, obviously the wicket helped us a little bit early on and then especially when there was cloud cover and the lights came on and it carried on moving around. It was a good day to be a bowler today.

“It was moving around quite a bit early doors. It was raining quite a bit overnight and we knew there was a bit of moisture around, but the wicket looked pretty good, so we didn’t quite know how it was going to play. Luckily it played into our hands. We’ve had a good few weeks coming off the Royal London win and then last week beating Hampshire, so we’re trying to use that momentum and bring it into this week.

(What was the pick of his wickets?) “I don’t know, I’ve got a few of my Somerset mates in there so probably George Bartlett’s. It’s always nice to do well against your old county. This is the first time I’ve played them since I left so I’m off to a good start.”

(On the hat-trick ball, tomorrow morning) “There’s a lot of planning going on tonight into what ball I’m going to bowl in the morning, but yeah, I think we’re probably going to stick to the same method, get the last wicket and then hopefully bat well tomorrow. Obviously you don’t know what a good score is until both teams bat, but we came into this game with the expectation that it would be a pretty good wicket, knowing that we need at least a draw. Coming off last week, that was a tricky wicket to bat on, but the boys did a really good job, so hopefully the boys can do it again.”

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