Cricket: Kent look to bolster promotion bid

PUBLISHED: 15:34 03 September 2018 | UPDATED: 15:34 03 September 2018

Cricket balls for sale at The Spitfire Ground, Canterbury (pic Gareth Fuller/PA)

Cricket balls for sale at The Spitfire Ground, Canterbury (pic Gareth Fuller/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Kent will hope to bolster their position in the Specsavers County Championship Division Two promotion berths this week when they take on Northamptonshire at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence.

The crucial clash, which starts tomorrow, will be Kent’s penultimate home game of the season and their sole match of the campaign against ninth-placed Northamptonshire.

Sam Billings’ side, who have occupied one of the two promotion slots for much of the season, now lie second behind Warwickshire following their seventh win of the summer at Derbyshire last week.

The six-wicket victory at The Fischer County Ground moved Kent nine points clear of Sussex in third and to within 15 points of long-term leaders, Warwickshire.

In praising his side’s gritty display in the East Midlands, Kent’s head coach Matt Walker, said: “It was an outstanding win, probably the best of the season for us.

“That was a proper four-day game of cricket and we haven’t had many of those this year where it’s gone to the last day and we’ve had to put absolutely everything out on the park to come away with a win.

“That makes me extremely proud and should make the lads extremely proud as well, because we haven’t had too many of those hard-fought long games this year and for attitude that’s as good as I’ve seen.

“We’ve fought tremendously hard with the bat all down the order and backed that up with some decent bowling performances from Ivan Thomas, Joe Denly and Adam Riley, who can be rightly proud of his contribution after fighting his way back into contention.

“I said in the dressing room it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a Kent performance like that from ball one to the final knockings, where the attitude, energy and commitment was just first-class.”

During the victory in Derby Matt Henry bagged his 50th wicket of the season, while Joe Denly posted his third championship century and followed up with a first-class career-best bowling display of 4-36.

But arguably the most satisfying individual performance was that of Riley, the off-spinner who, after a two-year battle to rediscover his bowling action, took match figures of 7-146 in only his third appearance of the season.

“The target at the start of the third day was to get the follow-on enforced and to keep us in with a shout,” said the 26-year-old from Sidcup.

“There was a little bit of spin as the game went on and even when the old ball was 110 overs old it was still spinning which is why we persevered so long with it.

“The aim was always to get back in the first team by performing with the second team and in the last few weeks I’ve taken 20-odd wickets, so I felt I’ve got back in the team on merit.

“We’ve been playing on a few green seamers this year which hasn’t allowed Kent to play a spinner other than Joe, so when you turn up and see all the grass shaved off the wicket, it keeps me in the game and gets me in the team.”

With no injury concerns, Kent will select from an unchanged squad for the game, which starts at 10.30am on all four days.

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