Wakely guides Steelbacks to victory

Sunday 2nd June 2013

Men’s First Team

Wakely guides Steelbacks to victory

A maiden one-day century by Northamptonshire captain Alex Wakely spearheaded their 29-run win against Kent, closing the 101st Tunbridge Wells Cricket Festival.

There was also a fine 88 from Northamptonshire opener Rob Newton, who added 144 in 18 overs with Wakely before he was forced to retire hurt with an ankle injury.

Northamptonshire, asked to bat first, totalled 263 for four and then bowled with great discipline to restrict Kent to 234 all out in reply on a fast-scoring ground. Trent Copeland finished with four for 46 while Lee Daggett took two for 28 from his eight-over allocation.

Kent were 132 for one in the 24th over before a mid-innings collapse to 149 for five left them with too much to do in the last 10 overs.

Alex Blake did his best to revive the innings by hitting 43 from just 24 balls, including a six and seven fours, but when he sliced a catch to cover off Copeland in the third of the four batting powerplay overs there were only a few more defiant blows from Matt Coles before Northamptonshire’s victory was confirmed.

Kent remain in second place in the Yorkshire Bank 40 group table, but leaders Nottinghamshire already have five wins from five games and are odds-on favourites to finish top later in the season.

Wakely’s 102 came from just 77 balls, with four sixes and seven fours, and he provided the major impetus with a stream of fine strokes, including three extra cover boundaries in a single over from off spinner Adam Riley.

Newton was never as fluent, as his 88 took 103 balls, but he struck two sixes and eight fours in all and was just beginning to put real pressure on Kent’s bowlers when, in the 35th over, he suffered the injury to his right ankle in freakish fashion.

Going down on one knee, Newton badly twisted his ankle as he flipped a ball over his left shoulder to the fine leg boundary for his eighth four.

After contorting himself to pull off the stroke against left-arm seamer Adam Ball, Newton crumpled in pain in the crease and could only continue after receiving treatment as he lay on the pitch.

Given a runner, he straight drove Ball’s next delivery over long off for six, but flinched with pain again as he played the shot and had to hobble from the field.

Wakely completed his hundred at the start of the last over, lofting Calum Haggett over mid-off for four, but then skied a catch from the next ball after Northamptonshire had also lost David Willey to a mishit to deep square cover off Coles.

For Kent, Haggett and Coles bowled excellently with the new ball and Darren Stevens was his usual metronomic self with his medium-paced swing and cut.

Riley, apart from one expensive over, was tidy and Kent were missing captain James Tredwell, away with England’s one-day team, and the injured seamer Mark Davies.

Sam Northeast, with 41 from 51 balls, added 64 for the first wicket with Sam Billings, who went on to 57 from 67 balls as he put on a further 68 for the second wicket with Brendan Nash.

But when Nash skied a catch on 32 and Billings was bowled swinging at Daggett, the innings lost momentum at a crucial stage as Northamptonshire seized their chance.

Click here for the ECB scorecard