Another week goes by and it’s time for another Canterbury Tales. Hi there, thank you very much for joining us; as summer begins to turn to winter down here in Kent.
The Vitality Blast dream and the quarter-final that ended it are now very much in the rear-view window and as good as out of sight. As there’s new-found excitement at the Spitfire Ground.
Well, that’s if the weather lets us be excited, but we’ll get onto that later. First, we have some catching up to do from last week’s column, to get you up to speed before we touch on any of the current stuff.
At the end of last week’s Canterbury Tales, Sam Billings and the rest of the lads were up in Derby. Having contested the first day of a crucial County Championship Division Two clash with Derbyshire.
We were 365-6 at close and would go onto make a mammoth total. Batting into the afternoon session on day two at the 3aaa County Ground. And making it to a whopping 561 all-out. Joe Denly top-scored with 104 and I know I say this every week but come on England selectors, just whack him in a team! Any team, Test, ODI, T20; he can play in it. I suppose Alastair Cook’s retirement may help him out in that respect.
I’m not saying that it wasn’t a batting paradise; the pitch. However, I was still incredibly proud of my team for that total. It was the best in all the matches being played last week, Division One and Two.
Bad Karma Strikes Again
In a summer where our bowling has dominated, most were geared up for a similar total from the home team in the second innings. I tuned into BBC Radio Derbyshire to listen as the hosts started their innings on Thursday.
I work from home, which means, with no boss looking over my shoulder in the flesh, breaks to check cricket scores are regular. But I finally put an end to it, putting my earphones in to listen along while I worked!
Whenever Kent are playing a County Championship match, it seems like as soon as I start listening, things start going wrong. Either runs or wickets start to dry up. As opposed to periodically glancing at the score on the BBC Sport website where drama constantly occurs. Probably something to do with the curse I seemingly put on my county.
Last week was no different and I soon turned off, Derbyshire racing into the 50s and 60s without losing a wicket. They went on to make a good score, but far off our one, 400.
A Key But Tense Win
Skipper Billings and coach Walker decided to enforce the follow-on from here and it turned out to be a very wise move in a match that would go down to the wire. While my checking of the score became more and more frequent as the third day progressed, it was becoming clearer that the home side weren’t going to hold out for a draw in the Sun-soaked game.
It’s probably a good job that I was distracted by being at London Stadium to report on the Premier League game between West Ham United and Wolverhampton Wanderers, on day four. Had I not been, I probably would have spent the whole day staring at the BBC Sport “live scores” page and would have eaten through the entirety of my fingernails.
Instead, I managed to steer clear of checking until after the full-time whistle. When I was delighted to spy on Kent Cricket’s official Twitter that one of those strange victory GIFS they always use, had been posted.
This meant a six-wicket win over Derbyshire. We had eventually worn them down by bowling them out for under 300, 270. Spin did the damage with Denly and Adam Riley both taking four wickets. Another excellent bowling display left Walker’s men with just 110 to win on the final afternoon. Which we reached with around an hour of play left. A little bit close to comfort for my liking, but that didn’t matter.
The reason this match was so important is that it was key in our bid to clinch promotion to Division One, seeing as Sussex had leapfrogged us into second place before it. Our neighbouring county travelled to the Home of Cricket Lords’s to face promotion outsiders Middlesex and were defeated comfortably, paving the way for Kent.
Our win more than took us back above our rivals. It also gave us a healthy nine-point cushion, ahead of this week’s clashes. Thanks to bonus batting and bowling points.
Back To The Present
The fourth-from-last round of County Championship games began yesterday up and down the country, with Kent hosting second-from-last Northamptonshire at the Spitfire Ground.
Our form has been unpredictable at home all season. We’ve seen emphatic victories in all formats, but also matches where the pitch looked to be working against us. Such as the nightmarish Blast quarter-final.
It really was no surprise to see an absolutely bonkers game get underway in Canterbury. the kind of match that I will miss if Kent get promoted to Division One for next season.
— Luke Glanville (@Glanville_Luke) September 4, 2018
In overcast conditions, Kent oddly lost the toss. Although this can be considered a blessing in disguise considering the decision-making of Billings, at times, this summer.
Batting first, we lost wickets characteristically and fell to a trademark Kent collapse in a big game. Going from 93-4 to 137 all-out before tea. But the wickets continued to flow as Northants came into bat.
Losing a wicket from the second ball of their innings, incredibly, the visitors slipped to 44-8. Old-timer and someone whose door I used to knock on regularly asking for autographs, as he lives in my village, Darren Stevens, weighing in with two wickets.
However, the real star of the show was Division Two leading wicket-taker and New Zealand International Matt Henry, notching six. Though Northamptonshire would recover to 70-8 by yesterday evening, the end of day one.
At the time of writing, this crazy match is currently at a standstill due to poor light and rain. With just three overs of day two so far, being bowled and Northants adding six to their total; without losing a wicket. Play looks set to be abandoned for the day any minute now. Which is frustrating for my team, who have all the momentum. Delays playing into the hands of the away side.
But, in the grand scheme of things, it won’t affect us or the game. Which doesn’t look like it’s going to make it past two days of full play before being decided.
So, there we have it, another week of Canterbury Tales, Kent are in a very strong position despite Sussex making a good start to their match and Warwickshire above in first place, doing the same.
The next time you hear from me, we will be a step closer to knowing whether glorious Kentshire will finally get that deserved promotion to Division One. So don’t forget to join us then and every week until the end of the season, to follow Kent’s promotion push from a not-so-serious and totally non-biased perspective.