With Yorkshire preparing to play a County Championship match at Headingley once more, Paul Dyson looks back 18 months and the county’s previous such game at the venue – one which set many records but none of them in the White Rose county’s favour.

For those who, like this writer, were present at Yorkshire’s headquarters on 16th September 2019 and witnessed Kent collapse to 39 for five on the first morning of the county’s final home game of the County Championship season it looked as though the home campaign could well finish on a high. By the end of that day, however, not only had the visitors lost only three more wickets during the rest of the day they had scored a staggering further 443 runs. Worse was to come on subsequent days and Yorkshire eventually slumped to a record-breaking defeat by the end of a record-breaking match. First the potted scores:

September 16, 17, 18, 19, 2019 at Headingley: Kent 482-8dec (DI Stevens 237, SW Billings 138, D Olivier 5-108) & 337-7dec (SW Billings 122*, OG Robinson 97); Yorkshire 269 (MW Milnes 5-87) & 117 (DI Stevens 5-20). Kent won by 433 runs.

The final Throwback Thursday of 2019 featured the achievement of Sam Billings in him becoming only the 16th batsman to score two centuries in a match against Yorkshire but other aspects of the game were also mentioned. It is now time for those records to be given their due place as well as commenting on other features of the match which have since come to light.

The first thing to go wrong for Yorkshire occurred 30 minutes before the start of play. Between them, Gary Ballance (1), Steve Patterson (9) and David Willey (1) had created a post-1945 Yorkshire record by winning 11 successive tosses. Well, the coin was bound to come down wrong sometime and on this day it did – for the first time for two years.

The game’s outstanding performer, aside from Billings, was Darren Stevens and the outstanding performance was his first-day career-best 237 which beat his previous record by 29 runs. His innings lasted for only 225 balls; he batted for 263 minutes and struck 28 fours and nine sixes. This was the first double-century scored by any Kent batsman on any ground in Yorkshire. The previous best for Kent at Headingley was 146 made by Australian Steve Waugh in 2002. At the age of 43 years, 139 days, Stevens was the oldest batsman for 70 years to score a double century in all first-class cricket, world-wide: Walter Keeton was 294 days older when he scored 208 for Nottinghamshire against Glamorgan at Trent Bridge in 1949.

Billings and Stevens shared a sixth-wicket stand of 346 – again, all made on the first day; this broke a host of records:

• the highest stand for any wicket for Kent against Yorkshire, the previous best being 239 for the second wicket by Wally Hardinge (137) and Frank Woolley (131) at Tonbridge in 1929;
• the highest sixth wicket stand for Kent against any team, the previous best being 315 by Aravinda de Silva (225) and Mark Ealham (121) against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge in 1995;
• the highest sixth wicket stand against Yorkshire by any opponent, the previous best being 235 by Graham Cowdrey (127) and Steven Marsh (125), also for Kent, at Canterbury in 1992;
• the highest sixth wicket stand at Headingley, the previous best being 252 by Craig White (181) and Richard Blakey (109 not out) for Yorkshire against Lancashire in 1996.

It cannot help but be noticed from the potted scores that Stevens, not content with his mammoth innings, also added to Yorkshire’s misery by taking five wickets in its second innings. This meant that he became the first Kent player to score a century and take a five-for in the same match against Yorkshire. The feat of scoring a double century and taking a five-for, as may be guessed, is very rare indeed and Stevens’ achievement is only the third instance involving Yorkshire as the following shows

GH Hirst 232*; 5-43 & 1-6 Yorkshire v Surrey The Oval 1905
MM Ali 219; 2-40 & 6-49 Worcestershire v Yorkshire Scarborough 2018
DI Stevens 237 & 21; 2-50 & 5-20 Kent v Yorkshire Headingley 2019

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