- Thu Jun 28, 2018 8:54 am
Well, all over before 'lunch' (e.g. the first, longer, break in a 'day/night' game at 4pm) on Day 3, this was one of the stranger CC games I have ever seen. Even allowing for the fact that Middlesex were missing a clutch of good players (Finn, Roland-Jones injured; Morgan, Stirling international duty; Gubbins, Helm England Lions) they still had a good team & Kent also had rested their two best CC bowlers (Matt Henry, Darren Stevens - partly due to the RL Cup Final on Saturday, but also due to Stevens problems in seeing the pink ball at Trent Bridge last season).
Both sides clearly wanted to bat - so Kent duly did so on winning the toss. Midway through the second session they had slumped to 134-7 before Rouse (who kept the gloves despite Billings' return) and the tail (Podmore and esp. Stewart who made a career best 38 on his return to the side after injury) took it to 241. Only the second time this season we have scored any batting bonus points...although just 1 here! The Middlesex seamers - Murtagh, Harris, Cartwright and Fuller (on his first appearance since 2016) - bowled well.
After 'tea' (the second break), under lights (though it was still a very sunny day), Middlesex batted as if they had never seen a bat before. True the ball was swinging, especially for Stewart, but does that explain why they collapsed to 56-9? The last wicket fell at the same score early on day 2...also to Stewart who finished with a career best 6-22. Not surprisingly the follow on wasn't enforced and Kent batted again.
Kent's second innings didn't go smoothly - again the batsmen (except for Kuhn) failed and when the 9th wicket fell at 181, we were wondering whether we had enough. Thomas, not renowned as a batsman, joined Stewart. In just over an hour they added 100...of which Thomas made 1 (and there were 4 extras...). Stewart beat his previous best score to make his first 50, then finally a maiden 100 with 5 x6, reaching his century off about 75 balls. At one point there were 8, or possibly 9, fielders on the boundary! This was the highest score by a Kent No. 10 ever (beating A E Watt, 96 vs MCC in 1932) and only the second time in cricket history a century partnership occurred with one scoring only a single.
I think it's fair to say Middlesex were shell shocked when they started their second innings - the ball didn't swing but they lost 2 wickets for 22 overnight, and continued to collapse on the day 3. Batting looked quite possibly, but the procession of batsmen continues...22-2 became 81-9 with no-one getting beyond 13 until no. 11 Murtagh decided to slog every ball and hit a quick 40. After less than 2 hours on day 3 the game was over, Kent winning by 342 runs. Harry Podmore, who joined Kent from Middlesex before this season, took a career best 6-36.
So, a great game for Kent - taking them (temporarily, perhaps) - to the top of Div. 2. As for the pink ball, and the 2pm-9pm hours of play...I couldn't see any evidence that it increased the size of the crowd or led to more people coming in after work. Instead many people left around 7pm.