High scoring draw for Kent
High scoring draw for Kent

Kent and Northamptonshire played out a dull, high-scoring draw at Beckenham after Josh Cobb and the Northants lower order comfortably made the 24 more runs they required to avoid the follow-on early on the final day.

Northants, resuming on 528 for 7 in reply to Kent’s mammoth 701 for 7 declared, were eventually bowled out for 568. Kent then replied with 184 for 3 in sizzling temperatures, and in front of a sparse crowd, and they took 11 points from this Specsavers County Championship Division Two match and Northants 9.

Daniel Bell-Drummond played on to Ben Sanderson on 5, but Sean Dickson made 60 in a second wicket stand of 101 with Joe Denly, who went on to 78 not out before hands were shaken at 4.50pm. Denly, who made 182 in Kent’s first innings, now has more than 900 championship runs this season, at an average above 60, with three hundreds and four more scores above fifty.

Dickson, the first innings triple-centurion, skied Max Holden’s off spin to cover after totalling 378 runs in the match, while Denly took his match run aggregate to 260 as Kent captain Sam Northeast kept him leisurely company against an assortment of Northants’ slow bowling – which included the offerings of wicketkeeper Adam Rossington, with skipper Alex Wakely deputising behind the stumps.

As the game meandered to its conclusion, indeed,  it was a moot point as to whether what was on show could be deemed first-class cricket. Perhaps the championship regulations should allow the umpires to call matches off early, but to their credit Kent’s batsmen did not try to smash the gentle bowling to all parts – merely walking singles into the deep field amid the odd boundary.

Northeast, in fact, gifted Ben Duckett his maiden first-class wicket when he skied an attempted big hit at a full toss to cover, on 27. Adam Rouse finished 8 not out.

At the start of the day Northants did not lose another wicket until the follow on target of 552 had been passed, with Cobb off driving Pakistan leg spinner Yasir Shah for four to take his side beyond that score.

Graeme White, on 11, then skied Shah to mid on before both Nathan Buck and No 11 Sanderson fell cheaply to leave Cobb 34 not out. Buck was leg-before to Shah, as he shaped to play to leg off the back foot, and Sanderson slogged James Tredwell’s off spin to mid on to go for a duck.

Northants’ 568 was a record total in first-class cricket against Kent, beating the previous best of 561 for 8 declared at Canterbury in 1995.

Kent’s Joe Denly said: “We wanted to take those last three wickets of their first innings before they reached the follow on target but it wasn’t to be and, after that, it was always going to be a draw on what was still a very flat pitch.

“It was frustrating for the spectators who were here today, but it was still a very good performance by us over the four days and a good game for me. To have that huge stand with Sean Dickson in our first innings was memorable – it’s pretty special to see a 300 because you don’t see them very often!

“It was difficult batting out there today because it wasn’t competitive and no player likes to play in that sort of situation. Hopefully the ECB will look at scenarios like this, and perhaps games could be called off early if the captains and the umpires agree that no positive result is possible.

“I’ve found some good form of late, after a bit of a slow start to the season, and the key for me is making sure you go big once you get in. I’m sneaking up on 1,000 championship runs for the season now, so it feels pretty good.”

Alex Wakely, the Northants captain, said: “I thought they might have given it a bit of a go today, even without the follow on, by declaring again and trying to put pressure on us at the end of the match even though there wasn’t a realistic chance of getting a result. But, then again, it was a flat wicket and their bowlers had sent down a lot of overs – and we’ve all got a busy schedule of T20 Blast games coming up.

“I’m just very pleased with the way we came back with the bat after conceding 700 and getting no bowling points! To score what we did in our own first innings and to come away with nine points in all is a fair effort in very hot conditions. I thought the way we fought and scrapped for every run was very pleasing and reflected excellently on our guys.

“It was also great to see Ben Duckett continue his return to form and both Max Holden and Adam Rossington both played superbly for their hundreds. Max goes back to Middlesex now at the end of his initial loan, and is also captaining England Under 19s of course in the next month or so, but perhaps we’ll see him again for championship cricket in September. He’s been great for us and we’d love to have him back.”