Match Report: Warwickshire vs. Kent

Match Report: Warwickshire vs. Kent

Kent made the trip to Edgbaston to face Warwickshire in the LV= Insurance County Championship.

Day Four Report:

Kent took a huge step away from the lower reaches of the LV=Insurance County Championship Division One with a thumping 177-run victory over struggling champions Warwickshire at Edgbaston.

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After resuming on 28 for two, in pursuit of a target of 325, the home side folded to 147 all out before Lunch. Matt Milnes led the demolition with a destructive burst of 6.5-1-11-4 but Kent’s quartet of seamers all played their part in building the pressure under which the Bears buckled.

The result leaves Warwickshire, who visit leaders Surrey next week, in real jeopardy of following their title triumph in 2021 with relegation in 2022. Kent, meanwhile, spring into mid-table after an excellent performance by a team galvanised by the arrival of overseas pacemen Navdeep Saini and Matt Henry.

Their seam attack possessed the cutting edge that the depleted Bears, without the injured Liam Norwell, Olly Stone and Chris Woakes, sorely lacked. Kent’s bowlers also were supported by fine work in the field, led by captain and wicketkeeper Sam Billings who took 12 catches in the match, surpassing the previous Kent record of ten (Fred Huish, 1911) and setting a new record for the Championship as a whole.

The final day had a helter-skelter start as Sam Hain hit his first three balls for four but then edged a fine delivery from Saini to Billings.

Dom Sibley and Will Rhodes dug in to add 35 but then came a moment which summed up the old cricket truism that it’s when things are going against you that Lady Ill-Luck will give you another good kicking. Rhodes, having looked in decent nick and started to sow the seeds of a partnership with Sibley, was strangled down the leg-side off Quinn.

Kent’s seam depth in this game showed itself as, with spearheads Saini and Henry grazing, Matt Quinn and Milnes took up the attack and took five wickets in 30 balls.

Quinn followed the wicket of Rhodes with that of Dan Mousley who edged behind. Milnes produced an unplayable lifter to take Michael Burgess’s edge and then forced Dom Sibley (33, 74 balls) to play on. Milnes had three for seven after taking a return catch from Danny Briggs.

With Warwickshire’s last two wickets needing to find 196, Kent turned to the spinners to improve their over-rate. Jack Leaning disposed of Craig Miles, caught and bowled, before Milnes returned to round off the rout when Olly Hannon-Dalby edged to first slip. Kent’s visit to Birmingham simply could not have gone any better.

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Kent head coach Matt Walker said: “I am thrilled with the result and that performance. It was a tough week against Northants last week where we felt we let the game slip through our fingers on the last day. We had some good discussion in the dressing room afterwards around how we are going o approach these next four or five championship games and I thought the response was outstanding.

“The win is a product of all the things we talk about in the dressing room, how we are going to try to turn this around, and I think we saw all of it in this game. You can’t just want to win and that’s enough, you have got to put the things in place and I was really impressed with the way the boys went about their work. Out first day’s batting didn’t quite go to plan but our response after that over the next three days was outstanding.

“That felt like a Kent side of old, the quality through those two and a half days was brilliant and it felt like a real team performance with some real key moments that we had to win and we did.”

Day Three Report:

Joe Denly’s 30th first-class century gave Kent a strong scent of victory over Warwickshire on the third day of their vital LV=Insurance County Championship match at Edgbaston.

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Kent shrugged off the loss of the first session to rain to advance their second innings to 384 for nine before declaring to leave the Bears a victory target of 325 with nine awkward overs to bat on the third evening.

Warwickshire reached 28 for two to set up a fascinating final day if the forecast rain stays away.

Denly’s accomplished 141 (269 balls) was his first Championship century since 2019 and was well supported by Jordan Cox (79, 159 balls). The pair added 196 in 56 overs, a Kent fifth-wicket record against Warwickshire, surpassing the 182 by Jack Mason and William Rashleigh at Catford in 1899.

After rain washed out the morning session, the visitors resumed on 198 for four and Denly and Cox advanced in unhurried fashion. Cox passed 50 in 96 balls and Denly reached his century in 183 as Warwickshire’s depleted attack plugged away with defensive fields and diminishing assistance from the pitch.

There was little that home captain Will Rhodes could to except rotate an attack in which, as has been the case for much of the season, Olly Hannon-Dalby towered above the rest – and not just because he is 6ft 8in tall.

Denly and Cox batted throughout the afternoon and into the evening. They had just consigned Mason and Rashleigh’s Catford masterclass to history when Cox chipped Danny Briggs to short extra.

Denly then edged the persevering Craig Miles to slip before Matt Henry smote three sixes, taking his match tally to 60 from 44 balls, to expedite the declaration.

Warwickshire’s openers went out for nine overs with very little to gain and everything to lose and Kent took just 12 balls to strike. Alex Davies edged a lifter from Navdeep Saini to wicketkeeper Sam Billings and the visitors, their tails well and truly up, delivered another big blow in the last over when Henry trapped Chris Benjamin lbw.

All results remain possible but Kent, their pace attack galvanised by the arrival of Henry and Saini, will strongly fancy their chances if an ominous weather forecast proves faulty.

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Kent batter Joe Denly said: “We are very happy with the position we are in. We are really in the game on a tricky wicket and hopefully we can turn up tomorrow and create eight more chances.

“It was tricky batting out there especially against the new ball which moved around and there was a little bit of variable bounce. Coxy’s been in superb form this season. He is a fine young player and I think there is plenty more runs to come from him throughout his career. 

“That partnership has really set us up nicely to go on and try to win it and the boys bowled superbly this evening to get us a couple of wickets late on.”

Day Two Report:

Joe Denly’s compact unbeaten half-century dug Kent out of trouble and left their vital LV=Insurance County Championship tussle with Warwickshire finely poised at the halfway stage.

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Trailing by 60 on first innings, the visitors closed the second day at Edgbaston on 198 for four – 138 ahead – with Denly unbeaten on 70 (149 balls). Kent were in peril at 105 for four but the England batter joined forces with Jordan Cox (40 not out, 80 balls) to add an unbroken 93 to keep their side in with a chance of a vital victory in a tussle between the two sides just above Division One’s bottom two.

In the morning they bowled Warwickshire out for 225 with the impressively pacy Navdeep Saini taking five for 72 on his debut. Four of the Indian’s wickets were among seven catches in the innings for wicketkeeper Sam Billings. It was Billings’ second haul of seven, though the Kent record remains eight (Steve Marsh v Middlesex at Lord’s in 1991).

Sam Hain defied discomfort from a sore back to lead Warwickshire’s batting. He was last to fall, for 99 (215 balls), as the home side acquired a lead that was useful rather than commanding.

During an overcast morning, Warwickshire made bitty progress as Hain battled to cajole runs from the tail. As Kent’s refurbished seam attack plugged away manfully, the last four wickets were all snaffled by Billings. Danny Briggs edged Matt Henry and when Henry Brookes and Craig Miles nicked Saini, it was left to number 11 Olly Hannon-Dalby to try to escort his team to a batting point and his partner to 100. The former happened but the latter did not as Hain bottom-edged a cut at Matt Milnes.

Second time round, Kent again started falteringly and lost both openers before the deficit was erased. Ben Compton edged Hannon-Dalby to third slip and Zak Crawley chipped Will Rhodes to mid-wicket.

Daniel Bell-Drummond collected 27 from 44 balls but fell lbw to Hannon-Dalby and when Craig Miles hit Jack Leaning’s off-stump with a beauty, Kent were 105 for four – just 45 ahead.

Denly and Cox played with composure and patience to first stabilise the innings and then accelerate gently against the softening ball as the pitch appeared to start to flatten. Denly continued his return to form by reaching 50 in 92 balls and celebrated with a straight six off Briggs. Cox batted impressively for the second time in the match and that the sixth-wicket pair stayed intact to resume in the morning tilted the balance of power in this fluctuating contest narrowly Kent’s way.

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Kent captain Sam Billings said: “Of course we would like to be in a different position but the fight that Coxy and Joey showed there in that last session has wrestled a little bit of momentum back for us. They batted beautifully. We just need to keep on fighting and scrapping for every single run to get us a healthy enough lead to really put them under pressure.

“What that number is, we’ll have to find out but we are looking hopefully at a 250-plus lead. But we are going to have to start again in the morning and bat really well. I think that would out us right in contention in this game. We will start off again tomorrow and hopefully these guys can keep going and building.”

Day One Report:

High-class bowling from Olly Hannon-Dalby put Warwickshire in charge before Kent hit back on a wicket-strewn opening day in the LV=Insurance County Championship at Edgbaston.

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In a crucial game, with both teams perched precariously above the relegation zone, the home side prepared a green wicket to expedite a result. They then won the Toss and their seamers exploited the conditions to bowl Kent out for 165.

Only Jordan Cox (48, 69 balls) passed 40 as Hannon-Dalby took six for 40 and Henry Brookes three for 56.

Warwickshire struggled in turn and closed on 155 for six, having leaned squarely on Sam Hain (68 not out, 130 balls). Indian paceman Navdeep Saini had an eventful first bowl for Kent, his spell of 10-2-59-3 including some seriously quick away-cutters and 13 no balls.

As leader of a severely-depleted seam attack (Nathan McAndrew the latest withdrawal after he went down poorly) the pressure was firmly on Hannon-Dalby to exploit the conditions. He rose to the challenge with an opening spell of 7-4-15-5.

On potentially the hottest day ever in England, Warwickshire’s decision to bowl drew an incredulous reaction from their fans on social media…but those fans hadn’t seen the pitch.

Hannon-Dalby struck third ball when Ben Compton nicked to wicketkeeper Michael Burgess and, after Kent advanced to 28 for one, added two more wickets in four balls. Daniel Bell-Drummond fell lbw and Joe Denly sliced a loose drive to second slip.

Hannon-Dalby won two more lbws: Jack Leaning and Zak Crawley who eked 17 from 53 minutes then fell, hit on the back leg, offering no shot. Cox and Sam Billings added 72 in 20 overs before Hannon-Dalby returned to have the former caught behind.

After Billings (33, 71 balls) edged Brookes, Matt Henry plumped for a spot of gung-ho. He socked three fours and three sixes in a merry 34 (23 balls) before slogging Brookes to deep mid-wicket where sub fielder Kobe Herft took a superb catch.

Saini steered Brookes to second slip and Matt Quinn joined the list of Kent batters whose quixotic aggression contributed to their downfall when he chipped Danny Briggs to mid off.

Kent hit back hard with three wickets in the first ten overs as Dom Sibley, Alex Davies and Chris Benjamin edged into the cordon off Matt Milnes, Henry and Saini respectively.

Hain moved fluently to a 64-ball half-century and added 90 in 28 overs with Will Rhodes (32, 99 balls) before Kent struck three times in 17 balls. Rhodes lifted Milnes to point and Dan Mousley and Michael Burgess edged Saini behind before Hain and Briggs gritted through the last 13 overs to leave their side ascendant, just.

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Kent fast bowler Matt Henry said: “We would have bowled first. We liked what the pitch looked like but it is a good wicket so it was probably the worst toss to lose.

“Credit to Warwickshire, they got it right with the ball and did some really good things up top and from there we were chasing our tails a little bit.

“Then more importantly the way we came out and bowled was exactly what we were after. We have got ourselves back in the game.

“It wasn’t an ideal day by any means but we have got a lot of belief that we can come out tomorrow, have a good session in the morning and then get stuck in with the bat.”

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