Kent put up West Indies fight
Kent put up West Indies fight

Rookie seam-bowler Charlie Hartley celebrated his Kent recall with career-best figures of four for 80 as the county’s second-string bowling attack made the West Indies toil for runs on the opening day of their tour friendly in Canterbury.

After losing four wickets in the morning session, the visitors re-grouped in the mid-session courtesy of half-centuries by Shai Hope and Jermaine Blackwood, only to slide either side of tea to a modest 265 all out in the face of some respectably tight county bowling.

In praising the makeshift Kent attack Hope said: “It was pleasing to get some runs under my belt but Kent bowled some pretty disciplined lines and lengths and didn’t give us much.

“It wasn’t the easiest pitch to bat on either, is was a bit slow and you had to be as patient as possible especially during that period either side of lunch when they bowled really well.

“There was a bit of seam movement and a bit through the air, but at different stages. At the start it was swinging then later in the morning it started seaming. As a batting side, we need to get bigger first-innings scores than this to set up games, but this is still good progress because we all want time in the middle to learn as quickly as possible before the Tests.”

In the four overs through to stumps, Kent lost opener Daniel Bell-Drummond caught behind off the fourth ball of the reply from Alzarri Joseph to go into day two on one for one.

Hartley, clearly determined to enjoy only the third first-class appearance of his career and his first red-ball match in over three years, opened Kent’s bowling with gusto after the tourists elected to bat first.

The 23-year-old from Worcestershire sent back both West Indies’ openers within 10 overs. Kraig Braithwaite, their opening bat and acting skipper fell to Hartley’s 19th ball of the match, caught half-forward and late with his defensive push to an off-cutter that thudded into his left-pad.

Then, with their total on 36, Hartley struck the front pad of left-handed Powell (13) who looked distinctly displeased by the bowler’s send-off as well as the umpire’s lbw decision.

After a tidy stint of 6-3-18-0 from the Nackington Road End, Matt Hunn was replaced by Calum Haggett as West Indies raised their first 50 in the 14th over of the match.

Hartley rested after his seven-over spell of two for 29, leaving left-arm seamer Adam Ball to continue Kent’s good work from the Pavilion End. The West Indies found runs and boundaries hard to come by, indeed, the ropes went unfettered for 13 overs as the home attack maintained a tight grip.

Having clearly enjoyed his bowling stints, Hartley said: “To be honest I tried to be a little bit more ‘me’ today. I wanted to enjoy myself and whenever I do get a game for Kent I want to give it my all and make it look as though it matters to me, like I care.

“I had fun out there and stuck to a plan. The pitch is quite slow, so I felt that the way to get wickets was to bowl straight and full. It was difficult as there was no margin for error, if you missed your length slightly the ball got dispatched.

“You could either bowl a championship length and not go for many runs, or attack more, so with the new ball I went for it and was happy to pick up four-for. I’ve bowled better and not picked up any wickets, so it was nice to have the luck on my side for a change.”

Third-wicket partners and Bajan brothers, Shai and Kyle Hope, appeared content to bat time but, after adding 38 and just after pulling a short one for his fifth boundary, Kai Hope (36) dragged a full-length delivery from Ball onto off stump via the bat’s toe end and his pad. He trudged off a dejected figure having played-on for the third time on tour.

Ball struck again in his next over having left-hander Shimron Hetmyer caught low down off a firm-handed push drive by keeper Adam Rouse for an eight-ball duck.

The tourists displayed some much-needed resolve in the mid-session courtesy of a fifth-wicket stand of 70 between Shai Hope and Jermaine Blackwood.

Hope, who looks set to play in this month’s opening Test against England, a day/night clash at Edgbaston, hit only four fours in his 107-ball 50 before he departed for 57.

Kent off-spinner Adam Riley, playing his first first-class game in over a year, got one to bounce and brush Hope’s outside edge for Ball to snaffle a regulation slip catch. It was Riley’s first first-class wicket since 2015.

Blackwood moved to his 90-ball 50 with six fours just before tea but, two deliveries later, went back to a full delivery and became Hartley’s third lbw victim of the day and send the visitors in at the break on 178 for six.

Hartley was in the thick of the action again soon after tea when his throw from square leg ran out Shane Dowrich (15) after a calling mix-up with Raymon Reifer.

The West Indies’ tail wagged a little thereafter, but Riley bagged a second scalp when Reifer (13) sliced high to mid-off then Will Gidman picked up his first scalp of the day by having Davendra Bishoo (23) caught behind after prodding at a leg-cutter and Hartley returned with the new ball to win his fourth lbw appeal of the day to end the resistance of Joseph (31) .

At the start of the day the tourists opted to rest skipper Jason Holder for this, their second match of the tour, allowing Braithwaite to lead the side. Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel also opted to sit the game out.

Meanwhile, Kent opted to rest seven of their white-ball specialists including captain Sam Northeast and the experienced trio of Joe Denly, Darren Steven sand James Tredwell. Zack Crawley, the 19-year-old batsman from Tonbridge School, was given a first-class debut and presented with his Kent 2nD XI cap by Kent and West Indies legend John Shepherd. Then, at tea, Kent president Charlie Rowe awarded Alex Blake his county cap, No 214, in this his ninth year on the county staff.