Kent held in Gloucestershire
Kent held in Gloucestershire

Graeme van Buuren and Kieran Noema-Barnett staged a gritty rearguard action to thwart Kent’s quest for a fourth straight Specsavers County Championship win and salvage a draw for Gloucestershire on the final day of the match at Bristol.

Teetering on 219-6 after following on and forced to contend with the new ball, Gloucestershire were between a rock and a hard place going into the final session.

But just as they did when posting a stand of 104 in the first innings, the seventh wicket pair served up defiance aplenty in a partnership that was worth exactly 100 when van Buuren fell to Daniel Bell-Drummond in the early-evening gloom.

Noema-Barnett (42 not out) and Craig Miles (2 not out) saw it through to the end and the home side were 322-7 in their second innings when the players finally shook hands, leaving Kent with 12 points and Gloucestershire seven.
Resuming on 73 without loss, still 269 behind, and charged with the task of batting throughout the day.

Gloucestershire initially made a decent fist of things, openers Benny Howell and Chris Dent seeing off Matt Henry and staging a restorative stand of 114 in 40 overs.

Howell’s 128-ball resistance ended when a full-length delivery from Harry Podmore kept low and pinned him lbw for 76. New batsman Gareth Roderick departed soon afterwards, bagging a pair after being squared up by a ball from Ivan Thomas that kept low.

But even then, Gloucestershire had no call to panic as Dent, who went to 50 from 141 balls, mustered stubborn resistance in an innings spanning four hours and 15 minutes.

Injured on the third day and only declared fit to continue after a morning net, Podmore struck again after lunch to remove Dent with the score on 182 and initiate a slide which altered the entire complexion of the match.
Suddenly under pressure, the home side suffered a mini-collapse, four batsmen falling for the addition of 37 runs inside 21 overs.

James Bracey was lbw playing back to Joe Denly’s off spin, and Kent’s captain then extracted turn from the Pavilion end to beat Jack Taylor’s defences. Thereafter, Darrell Stevens struck with the new ball, Ryan Higgins playing a loose drive and edging to first slip to further increase Gloucestershire’s discomfiture.

Denly tried everything at his disposal to effect a breakthrough in the final session, deploying spin into the rough from the Pavilion End while rotating his seamers at the other end and using seven bowlers in all. But van Buuren and Noema-Barnett remained obdurate, dealing with whatever was thrown at them to frustrate Kent at every turn.

Demonstrating sound temperament and technique, van Buuren chiseled 59 from 141 balls, while the equally patient Noema-Barnett controlled his aggressive instincts in an innings that spanned 129 deliveries.

Kent captain Joe Denly said: “I feel very proud of the guys’ attitude and I told them that back in the dressing room. They’ve run in and given me everything for two days on a pretty dead surface that didn’t offer a lot for the bowlers.

“It would have been easy to have gone quiet halfway through today, but our attitude was top-class, re refused to give it up and stuck it out right up until the final ball.

“We cannot rely on Darren Stevens and Matt Henry to take wickets all the time, so it was good to see Harry Podmore and Ivan Thomas perform well. The bowlers need to work as a unit and I thought those two bowled very straight today.

“We tried different things, set some funky fields and kept plugging away, but in the end it wasn’t to be.”

Gloucestershire head coach Richard Dawson said: “We managed to bat around 230 overs to save the game, which was good. But we wouldn’t have had to do that had we batted better in our first innings.

“Both partnerships from Graeme (van Buuren) and Kieran (Noema-Barnett) were outstanding. They the simple things well for a very long time, and that’s something we had talked about beforehand. They gritted their teeth and applied themselves really well.

“It’s a long way back from 5-3 in the first innings, but those two gave us a chance. Benny Howell and Chris Dent then took out 40 overs and gave us a good start to the final day, which was massive.

“But there were too many mistakes in the first innings and that is frustrating for me and for the players, because it costs us. If we want to put ourselves in a position to win these games, then we have to cut out those mistakes.”