Kent romp to Middlesex win
Kent romp to Middlesex win

Kent out-foxed and out-boxed Division 2 rivals Middlesex in the Specsavers County Championship pink ball game in Canterbury to land an emphatic 342-run win with five sessions to spare.

Having resumed on 22 for two in their second innings, the visitors lost their last eight wickets for 102 runs inside a session in the face of a career-best bowling return of six for 36 by their former Middlesex team-mate Harry Podmore.

In pursuit of a gargantuan and highly unlikely victory target of 467 against a Kent side unbeaten since the first round of the championship campaign, Middlesex buckled for the second time in three days – but this time under blue skies rather than dewy gloaming of their first night collapse.

The visitors second innings malaise continued from the 12th ball of the day when Sam Robson chased a wide out-swinger from man-of-the-match Grant Stewart and edged to substitute fielder Adam Riley at fourth slip to make it 27 for three. Nine on, and without a run to his name, Dawid Malan fenced at one from rushing across him from Podmore to nick to the keeper.

Stewart took his match-tally to eight by removing night watchman Ravi Patel to another catch in the cordon after a miscued back-foot force, then Podmore, who only joined Kent in the close season, darted one down the slope to snare Hilton Cartwright flush in front and leg before when prodding half-forward.

Podmore, 23, clinched his maiden first-class five-for when left-hander John Simpson feathered a lifting leg-cutter through to the keeper and, in his next over, the Hammersmith-born right-armer accounted for George Scott to a regulation catch at slip.

Ivan Thomas replaced Stewart at the Pavilion End to have James Fuller pocketed in the cordon and, after some lusty late hitting, Tim Murtagh heaved at one from Thomas to lose his off stump as Kent wrapped up their win 10 minutes before lunch.

After collecting the pink ball from the umpires as a memento, Podmore said: “The victory is the main thing and it was awesome. It was very convincing and the fact that it was against my old side didn’t make any difference to me, you still have to perform, no matter what’s set in front of you.

“We bowled well throughout the game. Obviously, we enjoyed a couple of twilight periods to bow at them, but even in the day we bowled well. I got a couple of four-fors last week at Tunbridge Wells and probably tried too hard for a fifth, but it was brilliant that it came today.

“It shows what a good spot we’re in as a squad for Grant to come into this game and bowl and bat the way he did. Then Ivan and Calum put their hands up too, it shows we have good depth to the squad and that we’re all in a great place going into Saturday’s final at Lord’s.”

It was the heaviest margin of defeat in matches between these two counties beating the 265-run reverse of Middlesex to Kent at The Mote, Maidstone, in 1938. And while a lot will be made of Kent having the best of conditions in this experimental day-nighter, they out-batted the opposition no matter the time of day. Their young attack – even without leading wicket-takers Matt Henry and Darren Stevens – also looked far more hostile and threatening with the pink Dukes ball than their Middlesex counterparts.

Kent banked 20 points from a fifth win in seven championship starts that cements their place in the promotion places, while Middlesex travelled home with only three points and having been out-gunned on all fronts.

Disgruntled Middlesex head coach, Richard Scott, described the pink-ball championship round as a “farce” and called on the ECB to call time on the experiment. He said: “I can’t give you an objective view as to whether we played well or not if I’m honest. I was asked to do a survey with Tony Pigott, the ECB cricket liaison officer, about the ball and the conditions we played under, and I had to say they were total alien.

“We are guinea pigs, the whole championship system is being used for an experiment. This hasn’t been a fair game of cricket because it was very much dependant on the toss. The feedback we’re getting, and it’s universal from around the country, from players and coaches, is that that they don’t like it and it should end. It’s a farce.”

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