Denly helps guide Kent to victory
Denly helps guide Kent to victory

Joe Denly made a late entrance to record his best first-class figures as Kent moved into the promotion places with a six wicket win over Derbyshire in the Division Two match at Derby.

Denly was of the field for most of the final morning through illness but took the last four wickets to finish with 4 for 36 to bowl Derbyshire out for 270 with Harvey Hosein top-scoring with an unbeaten 66.

That left Kent with a target of 110 and although they lost wickets with the finish in sight, a 23 point victory took them above Sussex into second place.

Derbyshire began the day 78 runs behind and Matt Henry struck early by finding just enough away movement to have Alex Hughes caught behind and become the second bowler to take 50 Championship wickets this season.

Tom Lace had shown good technique and temperament in both innings on his first-class debut and was looking secure until a change of bowling gave Kent another success.

Grant Stewart’s second ball beat Lace’s forward push and took the top of off stump to dismiss the 20-year-old for 43.

Kent struck again in the next over when Matt Critchley edged Adam Riley and the ball stuck between the knees of Billings as he dived forward.

Sean Ervine drove Stewart through the covers for four but became another victim for Riley in the 53rd over when the ball hit the back of his bat via pad and looped to silly point.

At 137 for 6, an early finish beckoned but Hosein and Hardus Viljoen took the game into the afternoon and ensured Kent would have to bat again.

The pair survived for another eight overs after the interval until Viljoen sliced Denly to point but Palladino joined Hosein to force Billings to take the second new ball.

Kent’s frustration increased when Riley put down a head high chance to gully with Hosein on 44 and he reached his 50 in the same over by driving Stewart for his seventh four.

Denly broke the stand when Palladino was lbw to one that kept low two overs before tea and the leg-spinner quickly wrapped up the innings after the interval  leaving Kent 28 overs to knock off the runs.

Sean Dickson showed his dismay at being given out caught behind off Lockie Ferguson in the 5th over but Zak Crawley and Heino Kuhn added 57 in six overs before Crawley edged Hamidullah Qadri to slip.

Kuhn sliced Matt Critchley to point and Denly gave Qadri a return catch but Kent survived the late drama to secure a fourth away win.

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 because we haven’t had too many of those hard fought long games this year and for attitude it’s as good as I’ve seen.

“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.”

Derbyshire captain Billy Godleman said: “It was obviously a pretty docile wicket but as Kent showed across their 200 overs if you were able to put the ball in and around the top of off stump and set some astute fields it was difficult to score and we allowed them to score miles too quickly on day one.

“From the batting side quite a lot of us in both innings got in but no one made three figures and one of us in the top four needs to be making a big hundred and then you find another 70 or 80 runs on top of what they chased and it becomes a tricky one.

“Although the scorecard in this instance wouldn’t reflect the amount of time they batted and the job they did for the team I think everybody contributed but first and foremost we allowed Kent to score too freely in the first innings.”

Sean Ervine, who is on loan from Hampshire, led the Derbyshire team off at the end and Godleman said: “Sean shared with the group today that he’s had a long hard think about his career and he’s decided to retire as of today from the game.

“Although he’s only been with us for a couple of games, we’ve all played against him for many years and he’s been a fantastic performer and most importantly a really good solid cricket man and he’s one of the good guys in professional cricket.”

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