Kent draw with West Indies
Kent draw with West Indies

Lightning and bad light ended batting practice for the touring West Indies who emerged second-best from their three-day draw with a makeshift Kent XI in Canterbury.The tour friendly ended just before 5pm when lightning and heavy cloud took the players from the field with the West Indies on 132 for four – representing a modest overall lead in the match of 66 runs.

Delighted by his side’s overall display, Kent’s acting skipper Sam Billings said: “I felt that one to 11 in our side applied themselves fantastically well and that was all I could ask for.

“Everyone had different motivations of course but it was very easy for me to captain a side of guys who really gave it their all and of course it was a tremendous honour to captain a Kent side for the first time.

“Sean Dickson is going from strength to strength and applied himself well against a decent attack and Zak showed what an exciting prospect he is. At the age of 19, to play an innings of such maturity was a tremendous credit to him.

“The game and this result shows the overall depth we have at the club and performances like this can only strengthen the healthy competition for places.”

The final day’s play finally got underway at 12.20pm after an 80-minute delay for rain, but once again the visiting top-order soon found the overcast conditions tricky against Kent’s rookie attack of seam and swing-bowlers.

Facing a 66-run first innings deficit, the West Indies lost their acting skipper Kraigg Brathwaite to Charlie Hartley’s fourth ball of the day. Prodding forward, Brathwaite feathered a leg-cutter through to keeper Adam Rouse to go without scoring and give Hartley his fifth wicket of the match.

Then, with 24 on the board, Matt Hunn got one to hold its line against the St Lawrence slope and take the outside edge of Kai Hope’s bat for Rouse to snaffle his second catch and send Hope packing for nine as the tourists lunched on 24 for two – still 44 in arrears.

After the interval Kieran Powell and Shai Hope made a watchful return, both surviving lbw appeals before drizzle again took the players from the field with the tourists on 45 for two.

Play resumed at 3.05pm with the loss of nine more overs and Rouse was soon celebrating a third catch after Kieran Powell tickled one from Adam Ball to depart for 23.

Hope (30) and Shimron Hetmyer made good their side’s 66-run first innings arrears before Hartey bagged his sixth wicket of the match, having Hope well held at short extra cover by Zak Crawley as the tourists took tea with a modest lead of 22 runs.

In fading light Hetmyer showed his steel with a battling 43 before the sides shook hands on the draw.

Toby Radford, the former Middlesex and Glamorgan coach who now acts as West Indies batting coach, was pleased with the first-innings determination of Shai Hope (57) and Jermaine Blackwood (50) and Hetmyer’s dogged unbeaten 43 on day three. “Kent bowled in good areas and kept coming at us. The swung it away to the right-handers and whenever we batted in this match there was cloud cover and a little bit of juice around.

“It was nipping around throughout, perfect English bowling conditions for when we batted and we talked about that, playing late and knowing where your off stump is. They’re finding out for themselves now that’s how you have to play here.

“Jermaine has been in good form since we landed and Hetmyer has scored a lot of runs in the Under-19s and is making the big jump up a couple of levels. These guys are young, but they’re learning quickly.

“We’re getting a lot of 30s and 40s, we need to convert them to bigger scores and make sure we post big first innings total because if we’re to truly push England then we must get big scores up on the board first time around. Players batting for two-and-a-half hours won’t be enough, they have to be prepared to battle it out for a whole day or more.”