Blog: My annual trip to Canterbury
Blog: My annual trip to Canterbury

On Tuesday, my annual pilgrimage to Canterbury to see Kent CCC was made. I normally attend during the cricket festival week but that was not viable this summer.

I couldn’t get the time off work at the beginning of the week, although I’m not sure that a ‘friendly’ match appealed. Making the journey for a maximum of 40 overs that constitutes a T20 match, along with the difficulty of getting home if it finishes late was also unappetising at the end of it.

When my father was alive, we always went to the Thursday or Friday of the cricket week but I doubt that he would have enjoyed the noise and style of cricket. Although it wasn’t quite our week, and there wasn’t quite the feeling of cricket week, it was a day that he would have enjoyed.

Armed with the maximum amount of Brigadista ale allowed, according to the ticket (no festival CAMRA beer tent or access to the pavilion real ale permitted), I started the journey. There was good fortune at the start of the day. My train ticket does not allow travel before 9:30 but the 9:24 from Bromley South was slightly delayed and I was able to catch it meaning I only missed one over. I went straight to the shop to buy my annual and was out just in time to see Darren Stevens finish the innings with his eighth wicket.

That suited me as I wanted to see Kent bat, hopefully piling on the runs. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite work out that way and both Sean Dickson and Daniel Bell-Drummond were dismissed before lunch.

After the break, Joe Denly followed and with the first three batsmen on the card having scored 17, 19, 21, I was slightly concerned when Sam Northeast reached 23. However, there was no need for alarm as he got off that number with a sumptuous boundary.

Sam Billings was going along nicely until the raised finger of fate sent him on his way. Zac Crawley came in for his debut and got off the mark with an edge onto pad the squirted away backwards of square. Sadly, that was to be his only run as Neil Dexter. If Stevens had shown his old county what they were missing with his 8-75, Dexter was doing his best to replicate it.

Stevens came out to join his skipper and try to steady the ship at five down, still 87 shy of the follow on. Their partnership was curious as Stevo scored 40 out of the first 50 of the partnership the SNE scored 24 of the next 30. Although Stevens had surpassed Dexter’s 40, he was unable to reach his half century and was sent packing by former Kent player, Martin Saggers.

Matt Coles, of whom I’m a big fan, came in and had scored 22 when the scoreboard showed 222 (which I appreciated). By this stage he had got away with messing up one reverse sweep but it was this shot that proved to be his undoing. It was such a disappointment as he had played some glorious cricket shots, but if you live by the sword…..

Northeast added just ten runs to their partnership of 49 but it was important that he remained the rock around which the others batted. Adam Milne came in to join him (how I wish he had a middle name commencing with A), and the two of them looked comfortable before the skipper was dismissed for 97 by Dexter, missing out on a richly deserved century. If you ever needed a captain’s innings, that was it.

Mitchell Claydon came in and bashed four, four, out, his dismissal being Dexter’s fifth This brought Imran Qayyum to the crease, thirteen runs short of the 300 needed for another bonus point. Having never seen him bat, I assumed that he would be a true number eleven and that Milne would try and farm as much of the strike as possible but how wrong I was.

They both played patiently and properly and passed the psychologically important mark without alarm and batted to the close with the score on 313 for 9. with Imran scoring 22 out of the unbroken 26 run partnership, his first runs in first class cricket.

Although a late finish, I still felt inclined to pop in to the Phoenix for a quick sup before walking  back to Canterbury East for the start of the journey home.

I should also add a note of appreciation for the help given to me with a ticket query by Alan Hilliker to whom I extend much gratitude.