Bowlers fire Northamptonshire to victory

Kent made a losing start to the 164th Canterbury Cricket Week, as Northamptonshire won by an innings and 23 runs with almost a day-and-a-half to spare in their LV= County Championship Division Two match.

The hosts were dismissed for 208 following another below par batting performance, losing nine wickets in less than two sessions to gift a 23-point win to the visitors.

Next-to-bottom Kent, however, went straight in to the nets afterwards having banked only three points from this their seventh defeat in championship starts.

Resuming on their overnight second innings of 90 for one, Kent lost four more in the morning session.

Once again, poor shot selection led to their demise with Joe Denly (33) starting the rot with a meek clip off his hip straight into the hands of Josh Cobb at short midwicket.

Skipper Sam Northeast was pinned leg-before when playing across a full length ball from Muhammad Azhar Ullah, as was Ben Harmison, whose painful 36-minute stay for three ended with a near identical stroke against Ben Sanderson.

On 27 Rob Key had raised Kent’s hundre in fortunate circumstances with a top-edged hook against Azhar Ullah that was palmed over the ropes for six by Maurice Chambers at long leg.

But after adding nine to his own score Key perished when another miscued pull against Sanderson sailed to Azhar Ullah who safely pouched the opportunity to make it 121 for five.

The capitulation gathered pace after lunch when Darren Stevens was adjudged leg before for 15 to the excellent Olly Stone who, in tandem with Azhar Ullah, sent down 53 of the 78 overs needed to skittle Kent.

Stone cleaned up Calum Haggett with his first ball and although James Tredwell survived the hat-trick ball, the end for Kent was nigh.

Azhar Ullah had Tredwell caught at long leg, one of three Kent players to be caught out on the hook, as was top-scorer Sam Billings (43) leaving Maurice Chambers to polish off the win by rearranging the stumps of Kent’s last man Matt Hunn.

Alex Wakely, Northamptonshire’s delighted captain, said: “I’ve just said in our team meeting that I believe that to be the best collective bowling performance that I’ve ever witnessed by a Northants team.

“We barely bowled a bad ball throughout and really made life tough for a Kent batting line-up that is chock full of experienced players.

“I’m very proud of that performance considering we were missing the two spearheads of our attack. Stone and Azharullah were magnificent and Ben Sanderson has again proved a real asset. We’ve also given ourselves a valuable day off ahead of our T20 quarter final.”

Kent skipper Sam Northeast said: “I thought Northamptonshire bowled really well on this pitch. There wasn’t much in it for our lads, but they got out of it what they could.

“A couple of us made starts in this match but nobody went on to play a match-defining knock. We all have to stick our hands up and say that wasn’t good enough.

“We have four games to go in this competition now. We need to look at our practice and how we’re going about things because there’s no denying that we’re very inconsistent.”

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