Stevens hits unbeaten hundred as Kent take control in Uxbridge

Tuesday 8th September 2009

Darren Stevens raced to his third hundred this summer from 117 balls

Middlesex v Kent LV County Championship Division 2, Day one, Uxbridge.
By Mark Pennell
A RECORD fourth wicket-stand against Middlesex worth 193 in 45 overs between Darren Stevens and Martin van Jaarsveld kept Rob Key“s side in pole position for promotion after they dominated the opening day“s action in Uxbridge.
The two right-handers beat the previous best partnership of 155 between Ed Smith and Matt Walker at Canterbury in 2004 as the visitors reached a very respectable 390 for four come stumps on Wednesday night.
Having taken 38 minutes to get off the mark, Stevens duly overtook van Jaarsveld to record his century with a clipped, leg-side four off Tim Murtagh. The ton, his third of the season, came from 117 balls and inside 152 minutes.
Van Jaarsveld looked set to join him at the milestone only to be undone by the second new ball. With his score on 86 van Jaarsveld, in aiming to off-drive against Steve Finn, found a thick leading edge that Adam London plucked out of the air at cover, diving high to his right.
Stevens continued to go for his shots, however, and survive through to the close on 129, while Justin Kemp had reached 16 not out to help Kent ease toward their first target in the match by reaching maximum batting bonus points.
The 33-year-old right-hander from Leicestershire should have gone to the penultimate ball of the day from all-rounder Gareth Berg but, as if to sum up Middlesex“s dismal day, Dawid Malan dropped the chance at second slip.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, Kent lost just one wicket before lunch, that of captain Rob Key who made an excellent 46 for his part in an attractive opening stand of 116 in 28 overs with Sam Northeast.
Though he passed 1,000 first-class runs for the season during his stay Key was still four short of a deserved 50 when his slightly mistimed drive offered a waist-high return catch to former Yorkshire seamer Chris Silverwood who gleefully accepted the chance for only his fifth wicket of the summer.
For the second time this season Northeast reached the 80s only to miss out on a maiden championship ton. After two-and-a-half hours at the crease the young right-hander attempted to run a shooting off-cutter from Tim Murtagh down to third man only to edge through to the keeper John Simpson and go for 84.
Then, 11 runs on, in-form Geraint Jones (20) shouldered arms at another off-cutter from Murtagh that cut in off the seam to peg back the right-hander“s off stump and make it 156 for three.
At the start of the day skipper Key made two changes to the side that drew with Derbyshire last week, rookies Phil Edwards and Alex Blake were both rested and replaced by Rob Ferley and Azhar Mahmood.
Kent team: S. A. Northeast, R. W. T. Key*, G. O. Jones†, M. van Jaarsveld, D. I. Stevens, J. M. Kemp, Azhar Mahmood, J. C. Tredwell, S. J. Cook, R. S. Ferley, A. Khan
Photo by AR Pics