Spitfires crush Surrey at Beckenham
Spitfires crush Surrey at Beckenham

Kent Spitfires won their fourth Royal London One Day Cup game in a row beating their local and oldest rivals Surrey by a comfortable 220 runs and in front of a bumper crowd on a sunny day thanks to a number of significant displays in the Kent side.

Heino Kuhn’s Beckenham-record individual List A Score of 117 set the tone with significant support from Joe Denly (78) and an explosive 59 from Alex Blake.

Meanwhile with the ball on a track looking good to bat on Darren Stevens took a career-best List A 6/25, beating his previous best 5/32, in turn taking his 150th List A wicket – Stevens’ six wickets coming in a devastating 29-ball spell.

Kent came into the today’s first of a weekend double-header with three wins on the bounce in the One Day Cup, looking to consolidate and push on to advance to the later knock-out stages.

Kent were also looking to continue their good run at The County Ground in the competition having also won their last three games as this venue.

The hosts made one change as Imran Qayyum came in for Harry Podmore to give Kent a left-handed spin option.

Surrey won the toss and elected to field however opening pair Daniel Bell-Drummond and Heino Kuhn showed fine form giving the hosts an excellent platform on which to build a more than competitive score.

Inside the opening half hour of play the openers had ably moved their side to 42/0 (Bell-Drummond 22*, Kuhn 20*) with no danger faced or endangering their respective wickets.

However in an eventful ninth over Kuhn (21*) faced danger twice, surviving a run-out chance at the non-strikers end whilst seeing Jade Dernbach put down a low caught & bowled chance (45/0; Bell-Drummond 24*).

The end of the tenth over saw the end of the first power-play with Kent handily placed on 55/0 (Bell-Drummond 31*, Kuhn 23*) and with the first over of the second play due to commence Surrey would now be limited to no more than four fielders outside the circle.

And what an over it proved to be for the hosts as Tom Curran had an over to forget – Bell-Drummond hitting the first ball for four was followed by two free hits in a row – The free hit ball a no-ball offering a second – With Bell-Drummond hitting the first at a fielder on the boundary but proving more successful second time around lashing the ball over Curran’s head and the sight-screen for six.

The over from Curran moved Kent on from 55/0 to 72/0 (Bell-Drummond 43*, Kuhn 24*).

Despite that setback, though, Curran made amends as Bell-Drummond (48) became the first man out for Kent edging behind to Ben Foakes (93/1).

Kuhn was joined at the crease by Joe Denly and the pair took Kent past one-hundred (101/1; Kuhn 45*, Denly 3*) whilst the Kent opening man, Kuhn, soon took the offer of a quick single to be rewarded with his half-century (5b, 6×4), Kent 127/1 (Denly 24*).

Since arriving at the crease Denly was looking to continue his recent good form and he looked keen and hungry to continue in that vein and in taking on the majority of the attack from Kuhn and catching up on the Kent openers individual score, Denly clubbed a six straight past the bowler and over the boundary rope to move his score onto and earning himself a half-century (45b, 5×4, 1×6) with Kent’s score looking extremely positive on 173/1.

The well-established pair then took their partnership past the one-hundred mark as Kuhn clubbed the ball for six in front of the pavilion (198/1; Kuhn 78*, Denly 65*) and immediately followed this to take their sides score past two-hundred (200/1; Kuhn 79*, Denly 66*).

As an indication of the shift Kent’s Kuhn and Denly were putting in upon the pair facing one hundred ball in their partnership they had amassed 122 runs (Kuhn 84*, Denly 75*).

The second wicket partnership perhaps inevitably wasn’t to last though as Surrey got the breakthrough with an uncharacteristically loose shot by Denly (78) hitting the ball straight to Morne Morkel – The Kent man’s strike rate above 100 contributing from only 71 balls including nine 4s and the single six (that took him to his half-century) and Kent 231/2 (33.1 overs; Kuhn 95*).

The man at the other end, Kuhn, was unphased by the loss of his partner as he guided the ball through the onside for four to move onto ninety-nine and the very next ball again guided a short ball for a straightforward single and with that a well-deserved century (91b, 10×4, 1×6) with Kent 237/2.

And after a period of play which saw little for the visitors as Kuhn and Denly were amassing theirs and Kent’s scores, including Kuhn’s century, the wicket of Denly followed another as the new man at the crease, Sam Billings (2), gloved a Rikki Clarke delivery behind and into the grateful hands of Foakes (238/3; 34.1).

And as Kent registered their two-fifty (37.0) history was made at The County Ground, Beckenham as the South African Heino Kuhn, moving onto 103*, surpassed Kent’s highest one-day score at the ground, held by Neil Dexter (101*) dating back to 2008 in the FP Trophy in 2008.

As the third power-play came into force with the completion of the 40th over Kent had reached 284/3 (Kuhn 111*, Blake 35*) resulting in Surrey allowed a maximum of five fielders outside the circle few knew what local boy Alex Blake had in store for them…

Gareth Batty, similarly to Dernbach earlier in the innings, was about to face some big-hitting, this time from Blake, as the Kent man fancied a potentially match-winning contribution.

The Surrey spinner saw successive balls crashed predominantly over his head as Blake went six, six and six (three in a row) to reach his tenth one-day fifty, and on his local ground, from only twenty-four balls (302/3; Kuhn 111*), following it with a fourth mighty six in a row but in trying his luck for a fifth succumbed as he skied the ball high with Jason Roy underneath it to take the catch – Blake out for 59 (26b, 3×4, 6×6).

In came new man Dickson and in only facing his fourth ball looked to match Blake’s efforts striking  big six not only over the boundary rope but also over the seated stand at The County Ground (318/4; Kuhn 114*, Dickson 7*).

As the Kent innings begin to close Kuhn’s record breaking individual score for a Kent player at Beckenham ended. The South African mistimed a hook shot straight to Dernbach – Kuhn out for 117 (112b, 10×4, 1×6) – Kent well set on 327/5 (43.5) and soon to follow him back to the pavilion was his fellow South African born compatriot Dickson (13), bowled by Dernbach – Kent 334/6 (44.5).

Darren Stevens (14*) and Calum Haggett (6*) guided Kent to and past 350 and in doing so surpassed the previous highest score by a Kent side in One Day competition versus Surrey (337/3, 2008, Canterbury, FP Trophy).

But typically in the nature of the One Day Cup competition as over’s run out batsmen take more risks and with Kent having a good score on the board Curran was the recipient of two wickets in an over to his name as he bowled Stevens (19; 355/7; 47.2) then two balls later saw New Zealander Matt Henry (4; 359/8; 47.4) caught after lofting a ball high into the sky with Foakes taking responsibility for the catch.

Kent saw out the remainder of the over’s without further loss as Haggett (22*) and Qayyum (9*) saw it out, Kent finishing their innings 384/8 – Unfortunately for the hosts they were unable to score their highest one day score in their history as they could only equal it – 384/6 versus Berkshire in 1994 at Finchampstead.

As the players returned to the arena the sun shone down but would it shine on the hosts? Would they be able to defend what in theory was a substantial total by limiting their opponents’ run chase or bowling them out?

The hosts were undoubtedly keen to make a quick impact and inroads into Surrey’s batting line up and with the responsibility falling to Mitch Claydon and in-form Matt Henry neither disappointed with captain and wicket-keeper Sam Billings at the heart of the action.

For in the fourth over Henry maintained that form as Mark Stoneman (3) edged behind to Kent’s man with the gloves (20/1) and in the following over Claydon backed up his fellow opening bowler as Will Jacks (4) gave Billings a second catch in quick succession (33/2).

At the end of the first ten-over power-play Surrey were 66/2, compared to Kent’s earlier 55/0 earlier in the day.

But before Kent could make any further impact with the ball Surrey’s opening batsman Jason Roy advanced to fifty courtesy of an inside edge (39b, 8×4, 1×6).

Roy and Rory Burns were certainly showing their mettle in the middle steadily accumulating the score and with bowling changes introduced to entice a change in fortune Imran Qayyum got the breakthrough and in the context of the game perhaps a crucial one – Surrey three down and it was opener Jason Roy (68) to go – Roy went big lofting the ball into the outfield but the England man could only direct the ball towards Matt Henry inside the rope (97/3).

Qayyum wasn’t finished there as he struck once again shortly afterwards and all of his own doing – Despite Foakes (4) striking the ball well Kent’s left-arm spinner held onto the ball above his head off his own bowling – Surrey 112/4 (18.0).

Qayyum was rewarding both himself plus Captain Sam Billings with the faith to select him for this game as Surrey fans began to quieten and the Kent support finding their voices just a little more.

With the game tantalisingly poised who better to bring into the game with the ball that Darren Stevens? And Kent’s talisman and chief destroyer over the years didn’t disappoint.

Despite unusually being the days’ third bowling change ‘Stevo’ still had the chance to make a significant personal impact and imprint upon the game and he duly delivered to tear through Surrey’s middle and bottom order to win the game for Kent.

In only his second over he found the gap between Ollie Pope’s (4) bat and pad (Surrey 121/5) and single-handedly began to give his Kent side the ascendency trapping a disgruntled Rikki Clarke (11) leg-before (135/6; Burns 40*).

Any chance Surrey had was now firmly placed with Burns but he became Stevens’ third victim holing out to Calum Haggett at mid-on. Surrey 140/7 and surely this was the game up for the visitors…

Stevens and Kent weren’t to be denied belying what appeared to be a good track to bat on as the Kent all-rounder bagged his 150th List A cricket wicket bowling Tom Curran (8; 149/8), to then follow up with his fifth wicket of the innings, trapping Dernbach (2) leg-before (159/9).

Stevens finished the job with Matt Henry’s support catching Gareth Batty (15) on the boundary and in front of the seated stand to complete the visitors’ demise and Kent’s demolition job.

Kent have only two days to await their next game and continue their rich vein of form as they host Gloucestershire again in Beckenham – The visitors surely not looking forward to the prospect whilst Kent and their squad will be chomping at the bit and whetting their appetite for more success this Sunday.

Kent Spitfires: Bell-Drummond, Kuhn, Denly, Billings (c, w), Dickson, Blake, Stevens, Haggett, Henry, Claydon, Qayyum

Surrey Lions: Roy, Stoneman, Jacks, Burns (c), Foakes (w), Pope, Clarke, T. Curran, Batty, Morkel, Dernbach