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Duffy edges Kent closer to victory
Duffy edges Kent closer to victory

Kent are scenting a first win of the LV= Insurance County Championship season at Canterbury, after a late salvo by Jacob Duffy reduced the Gloucestershire to 37 for five after day three, still 89 behind the hosts’ first innings total of 564. 

Matt Quinn started the visitors’ collapse when he removed George Scott for 10 and New Zealander Duffy then took four for eight, to leave Gloucestershire reeling at stumps. 

Earlier Jordan Cox made 158 and Jack Leaning 128 in a record Kent stand for the fourth-wicket against Gloucestershire. 

After two and half days in which the bowlers struggled to make any impact, Tom Price took a hat-trick career-best figures of five for 53, but wickets continued to tumble through the evening session, with Chris Dent and Miles Hammond clinging on at the close of play on eight and nought not out respectively.  

Kent began day three on 232 for three, needing another 57 to avoid the follow on, a landmark they sailed past despite Gloucestershire taking the new ball after the first over. 

Leaning carved Tom Price for four through backward point to pass 50 while Cox reached his half-century with a nudged single off Zafar Gohar.  

It was 337 for three at lunch and Cox won the race to three figures with a flamboyant reverse-sweep for four off Hammond. In the next over Leaning, who’d been ahead of his colleague for most of the session, scrambled a single to bring up his seventh first-class hundred. 

A cut shot from Cox off Ajeet Dale saw Kent move into the lead, and the duo then passed the previous fourth-wicket record of 233 set by Colin Cowdrey and Brian Luckhurst in 1962, before the stand finally came to an end when Leaning pulled Gohar to Ollie Price at square leg. 

Having reached 468 for four at tea, Kent had moved to 511 when they lost two wickets from two balls. Price had Cox caught behind and then sent George Linde’s off stump flying. After a maiden over from Gohar, Price returned to trap Grant Stewart lbw for his hat-trick, but Kent regained the initiative when Matt Milnes joined Sam Billings and the duo put on a rapid 53. 

Milnes’ 37 included successive sixes and a four from Gohar in the final over before the second new ball was taken, but he then hit Price to Hammond. Price then sent Duffy’s middle stump cartwheeling for a second ball duck, but when Billings also bowled middle stump by Dale for 43 it left Gloucestershire with a dicey nine-over spell to survive before stumps.  

Scott subsequently edged Quinn to Cox at second slip and Billings took a brilliant diving catch down the leg side from Duffy’s first delivery to remove Bracey. 

Duffy then charged down the wicket to catch night-watcher Zak Chappell for eight and his next delivery had Dale caught by Ben Compton for a golden duck. Tom Price survived the hat-trick ball, but the next delivery clipped his bails to leaving Kent in a euphoric mood at the close. 

Kent’s Jack Leaning said: “Jordan’s having a good year isn’t he? I think he’s right at home batting at five and opening the batting last year has probably stood him in really good stead to go and play now. He obviously got a lot of confidence from that, although he doesn’t need it! He tends to exude that. He’s flying across all formats and showing what a good player he is. 

“We were stood in the dressing room thinking hopefully we can get a lead of 150, 170 and hopefully not have to bat again. We lost a couple of quick wickets at the end but the complexion has completely changed with the way we bowled there. We’ve had a couple of tough games this year, so to get into a position like that is great fun. Everyone’s leaping about and everyone’s enjoying it. 

“We’re in a great position as a team. Hopefully we can out tomorrow firing as a team and get our first win.” 

Kent’s Jordan Cox said: “It was amazing, wasn’t it, it was great to watch and great to be out there. To get them five down tonight should make tomorrow a lot easier, but to get five and to bowl like that was incredible and it was great for us to show that we could do that, as we’ve had teams do that to us, so to show that we can do that we can do that to other teams is really, really impressive.” 

“Jack’s been injured so for him to score those runs was key for him personally and for the team, it was great to see him back out there in full flow.  

(On the race for the hundred.) “I was looking up, I’m not going to lie to you, it was like our partnership two years ago (against Sussex in August 2020) I always had my eye on the board every now and again!” 

Gloucestershire’s Tom Price said: “You done a hundred and 60 odd overs in the field, so that’s part of the way it goes. They try and keep you out there for as long as they can and have that little burst at you. We knew it was going to be tough, they’re a quality attack with the new ball and it was a difficult period.”

“Duffy’s bowled fantastically well for the couple of overs he’s bowled there. I know I can only speak for myself and I’m disappointed not to get through it, but it was a good period of bowling and I think rather than reflect too much, we obviously are disappointed, but they’ve showed if you can get in it’s a wicket when you can go big and we’ve got a lot of strong batting to come.” 

“I was on a hat-trick ball last year against Glamorgan and I can’t really believe it happened today, it just sort of all went in my favour with those three balls so I’m delighted. I was just talking with Higgo before the third one, just saying more of the same, keep it very simple and attack the stumps. We’ve not really had much luck, the guys did incredibly well controlling the rate for 150-odd overs and by the time I came on I just reaped the rewards of those guys. I was lucky. 

“We had them three down for 150 I think, so a (maiden five-for) would have been the last thing on my mind, I can’t quite believe it, I’m obviously very pleased but it hadn’t crossed my mind at all.  

(On the pitch) “The umpire kept telling me it was going dead straight so I’m not sure it was doing too much but I think with the slope you always feel you’re slightly in the game.”