After heavy rain through the previous afternoon and this morning the umpires had the simple task of getting their feet wet and confirming there was no chance of play on Day 4. Kent take 10 points for the draw and Yorkshire claim 7.
Yorkshire fought the rain and took 3 Kent wickets in a reduced morning session, but the rain came at 12.40pm and didn’t stop. Play was officially abandoned at 3.30pm, but most present had given up hope long before.
In the fifth over of the morning Tim Bresnan caught the edge of James Tredwell with the catch taken by Phil Jaques at second slip. The next ball Bresnan had Matt Coles caught behind, but Mark Davies successfully defended the hattrick ball to deny the England all-rounder.
Rashid then bowled Davies to make it 3 wickets for Yorkshire in 7 balls, but Charlie Shreck stood firm to enable Brendan Nash to steer Kent to 350-9 and a fourth batting point when the rain returned.
We’d played the preceding half-an-hour under the floodlights and as the clouds gathered the feeling was surreal, more 7pm that morning session. Something to me doesn’t feel quite right about some teams being able to play in poor light and not others, but then it’s a spectator sport and play should be maximised. I’m sure the 12 paying punters in the ground today were very grateful!
There was heavy overnight rain in Canterbury and play was delayed until 12 noon, but only 8.5 overs were possible on Day 3.
The forecast for this evening is not good, but at least with bonus points tied up (Kent 7, Yorkshire 4) there will be no undue hanging around to manufacture a charge for more.
DAY TWO MATCH REPORT
A morning session lacking a spark saw Kent progress relatively unscathed beneath Canterbury sunshine.
Ajmal Shahzad made the initial breakthrough for the Tykes when he had Scott Newman caught behind by Jonny Bairstow for 31 and Kent were 35-1 after 15 overs.
At the other end Sam Northeast was in steadfast mood, but with Ben Harmison he took the hosts to 85-1 at lunch. It had been dour progress, particularly for the first hour-and-a-half, due to tight bowling and a difficult surface that didn’t aid fluent strokeplay. The few hardy souls that had turned up in shorts were risking windburn or frostbite rather than anything sun related. But at least we were playing!
We learned on the stroke of lunch that Jonny Bairstow and Joe Root had been selected by England Lions to play West Indies at Northampton (10-13 May). Great news for them, but both will miss the LV= County Championship clash against Gloucestershire in Bristol which starts on 9 May.
Ajmal Shahzad bowled a strong spell after the break and deserved the wicket of Northeast who was pinned to his crease and lbw for 26. Harmison was joined by Brendan Nash and together they formed a dangerous pairing. Harmison produced some fluent drives, but was prevented from reaching his fifty when Steve Patterson had him lbw for 43 with the second ball of his spell from the Pavilion End. It was an important breakthrough and still with a lead of 122 Yorkshire were back in the game.
Michael Powell was nicely held by Tim Bresnan from a Ryan Sidebottom ball that lifted and when Darren Stevens was lbw to Tim Bresnan Kent were 158-5 and still 89 runs adrift.
It had been Yorkshire’s afternoon, but then Brendan Nash and Geraint Jones put a halt to Yorkshire’s charge. Kent went to tea at 209-5 with Kent’s sixth wicket adding 51 runs. While all passages of play are important, the evening session on Day 2 promised to be pivotal and Kent were taking charge.
Jones was playing a key innings as he cut two fours in the first over after the break and drove Sidebottom through extra cover twice as 22 runs were added within the first three overs, but Sidebottom fired back when Jones flashed a drive to Ballance at first slip. Kent were six down and within 12 runs of Yorkshire’s first innings total.
Nash belted Rashid through Andrew Gale at midwicket and although the skipper got a mit on it the resulting 3 runs saw Kent into a first innings lead. Gale turned to the new ball, Bresnan and Sidebottom searching for the breakthrough as Nash neared three figures.
The West Indian international was increasingly impressive. His season in Jamaica, including two double centuries, had been instrumental in his home island winning the 4-day Caribbean competition. As a small man his judgement of length is impeccable and allows him to rock back and punish anything short. His running between the wickets would impress countryman Usain Bolt.
A fourteenth Nash boundary brought a well deserved century in 156 balls and with James Tredwell the lead was growing. The Kent pair played well withing themselves for the last passage of play and by the close had seen the total to 316-6 and a lead of 69 runs.
There is no doubt it was a bad toss to lose yesterday with considerably less help for the Yorkshire bowling attack on the second day. The Yorkshire bowlers didn’t do a lot wrong and came up against an international batsman in Nash in sublime form. Dogged, yet always ready to counter attack, the left hander was unbeaten on 114 at the close with Tredwell 28 not out.
It may yet all be academic, with a shocking weather forcast for the weekend it could even be two days of watching the covers from hereon.
JAMES BUTTLER at CANTERBURY
DAY ONE MATCH REPORT
Tim Bresnan bowled Yorkshire’s only over of the day, but despite grabbing an edge twice, couldn’t take a wicket as Kent survived at 4-0 at the close. Yorkshire had been dismissed for 247 and therefore lead by 243 runs.
Every run scored was hard earned as the Kent bowlers nibbled and probed. It wasn’t until the 14th over that Sayers pulled the first boundary and Root had to wait another two overs before cutting away his first four.A few moments later he rose to his toes to ease Stevens to the cover fence in classical style.
Just as the hard work seemed to have been done Sayers suffered a rare misjudgement to a ball that nipped in from Cole to flick his off bail. The left hander was on his way for a 64 ball 12 and Yorkshire were 23-1 in the 21st over.
The Tykes were threatening to break the shackles when Darren Stevens began to drop the ball a little short allowing Phil Jaques got off the mark with a backfoot drive through cover, but Stevens snapped back when he had Root lbw for 21 and that was the story of the day.
Yorkshire had battled through to lunch at 52-2 and Andrew Gale played some aggressive shots in a bid to rest the initiative from the hosts. With the ball moving considerably it was no easy task and when Davies, returning after lunch, got one to jag away the Yorkshire skipper could only edge behind.
Jonny Bairstow joined Jaques and the pair added 32 for the 4th wicket before Jaques was traqpped lbw by Stevens two balls into his second spell. Yorkshire were 102-4 and it was a measure of the nature of the wicket that no batsman had managed to look completely at home.
One of the best things about having Bairstow in the side is he doesn’t know how to bat slowly. He moved into the thirties with three successive boundaries off Coles, but then the flipside was he drove the same bowler straight to Sam Northeast at cover and Yorkshire were 120-5.
It was great to see Tim Bresnan in a Yorkshire shirt, even though it had the wrong number 19 on the back, and he set about reparing the damage with Ballance, who also had number 19 on his jumper, but for the right reasons. Bresnan didn’t seem bothered as he stroked Stevens to the cover fence.
By tea the pair had added an unbroken 38 for the 6th wicket. Bresnan glided Shreck through extra cover after the break, but batting still wasn’t easy. The England all-rounder was adjudged leg before to James Tredwell after reaching 33. The sixth wicket stand had been worth 51 runs in 17 overs.
Ballance was playing with immense maturity and restraining his naturally attacking nature. Rashid got off the mark when he straight drove Tredwell into the Pavilion. Yorkshire passed 200 and Ballance then drove Tredwell straight again to become Yorkshire leading scorer in the innings.
News of heavy rain back home brought the southern sun out. Kent took the new ball to see if that could unsettle the seventh wicket pair and they didn’t have to wait long.
Kent’s success came moments after the fifty partnership had been reached. Shreck bowled one that possibly kept a little low and may have tickled the inside edge before it bowled Ballance for 38. Rashid had played well for 27 when he played outside off and edged Shreck behind to Jones. Yorkshire were 226-8 in the 84th.
Shahzad took it upon himself to attack in search of the second batting bonus point but only succeeded in lofting Coles straight to Nash at deep square.
Ryan Sidebottom decided to show the top order how it was done with a couple of crisp boundaries of his own, but was bowled for 17 just 3 runs short of a second batting bonus point.
It’s been a tough day to read. The Kent bowlers have done their job well in helpful conditions where the ball rarely ceased to move around. But the Yorkshire batsmen all got starts and regular partnerships which were broken just as it looked like a recovery was in progress.
It will be an important morning with the ball tomorrow and if Yorkshire can bowl like they did against Essex last week 247 could still be a competitive first innings total.
JAMES BUTTLER in CANTERBURY
Yorkshire named arguably their strongest Championship XI, but lost the toss and were asked to bat first on a wicket which had mositure present after the previous day’s deluge.
Kent were without Rob key who hobbled out of pre-match practice. His placed goes to Sam Northeast and Geraint Jones assumes the captaincy.
As I drove down the M1 yesterday afternoon in a haze of fog, rain and cloud I didn’t think we had an eartly hope of starting on time today. What a difference a day makes. The groundstaff, aided by a strong overnight wind, have worked wonders.
The Yorkshire side take to the road for the first time this Championship season for the return leg against Kent at the St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury. Kent had the better of the drawn fixture at Headingley a couple of weeks ago, but Andrew Gale’s side showed significant improvement against Essex last week and will be keen to put the first tick in their win column.
I wrote last week that the Yorkshire side needed to remove ‘wickets in clusters, inconsistency with the ball, an aversion to killing sides off and letting late wicket stands steal the initiative’ from their performances.
In truth all of these issues, to varying degrees, were still present against Essex, but in that game they did much to speed the rain ruined game along and keep a positive result possible, until the rain intervened. On other days these flaws will be more costly and there is still much work to be done.
We’ve had two very different drawn games so far this summer. The Tykes bossed the match against Essex at Headingley, whereas Kent had their noses in front for much of the game and their new winter signings under the guidance of former West Indian captain Jimmy Adams have blended in to a promotion challenging unit, certainly if early season form is any gauge.
Kent followed their Leeds stalemate with a win by an innings and 120 runs in Northampton, but were aided by the Canterbury weather last week when they escaped with a draw when looking doomed against Gloucestershire.
Kent currently sit in second place in Division Two on 39 points from 3 matches. Yorkshire are in seventh place on 16 points having played a game less.
The Tykes will need to be at their best down south and will welcome back Tim Bresnan who has been released by the ECB to play in this game and at Scarborough next week. Brez almost feels like a new signing and adds consistency with the ball and potential runs to the Yorkshire XI.
Phil Jaques, along with Ravi Bopara, looked a class above at Headingley next week and his presence at number three provides solidity and he has a natural ability to keep the scoreboard ticking in adversity. His signing has given the season a major boost and he’s obviously enjoying his second spell of wearing the White Rose, but then, with a Sheffield born father, it is in his blood!
If you are travelling down to Kent this week you can purchase your tickets online in advance for £10 per day, with the fourth day priced at £5. The ticket prices go up at 9am (when the gates open) each morning to £15. Tickets can be bought each day for the next days’ play in the Club Shop for the cheaper price and can also be purchased from www.kentcricketshop.co.uk
Andrew GALE (capt), Joe SAYERS, Joe ROOT, Phil JAQUES, Jonny BAIRSTOW (wk), Gary BALLANCE, Tim BRESNAN, Adil RASHID, Ajmal SHAHZAD, Ryan SIDEBOTTOM, Steve PATTERSON and Iain WARDLAW.
Rob Key (capt), Scott Newman, Ben Harmison, Brendan Nash, Mike Powell, Darren Stevens, Geraint Jones, Matt Coles, Mark Davies, Charlie Shreck, James Tredwell, Sam Northeast, Daniel Bell-Drummond.
OPPOSITION ONE TO WATCH
Matt Coles – a fast improving all-rounder who impressed with the ball at Headingley and also made the Tykes suffer with the willow with an attacking century. In that next match he took 9 wickets against Northants and is an all-rounder who is beginning to realise his potential.