KSN are proud to support:

Evison leads Kent fightback
Evison leads Kent fightback

Kent’s Joey Evison made his third fifty of the season but could not prevent Lancashire having the best of the first day of their Vitality County Championship match against Kent at Emirates Old Trafford. 

Evison was helped by Grant Stewart, with whom he put on 69 for the seventh wicket, a stand in which both batsmen took the attack to Lancashire’s Test spinners, Nathan Lyon and Tom Hartley, on a cloudy afternoon in Manchester.  

The pair came together with their side poorly placed on 129 for six after George Balderson had taken three prime wickets in 28 balls, but their calculated aggression had enabled the visitors to reach 203 for seven, with Evison unbeaten on 50, when rain arrived five overs into the evening session and prevented any chance of a resumption. 

But Evison and Lyon’s aggression was in sharp contrast to the watchful opening 75 minutes of the day, in which 45 runs were scored in 17 overs.

However, Kent then lost three wickets in four overs. Ben Compton was the first to go when he pushed forward to a delivery from Balderson and was caught by wicketkeeper Matty Hurst for 13. 

Zak Crawley then stroked a trio of fine fours off successive balls from Balderson but was dismissed for 41 in the next over when his flat-footed cover drive to Will Williams merely nicked another catch to Hurst.

And Lancashire’s best period of the morning was completed a few minutes later when Balderson nipped one away from Daniel Bell-Drummond and the Kent skipper was caught by George Bell at third slip for three. 

But the session also ended well for the home side when Jack Leaning was bowled for four when a ball from Balderson snaked inside his loose off drive and knocked back the leg stump.

That meant Kent had lost four wickets for 27 runs and it left the home side poorly placed on 76 for four at lunch. Matters got no better for Kent on the resumption when Harry Finch was pinned on the crease by Williams for three to leave the visitors on 83 for five.

However, Evison showed no sign of being overawed and  put on 46 with Joe Denly, who then tried to take on Jennings, the long-on fielder, and was caught by the Lancashire skipper off Lyon for 18. 

By mid-afternoon Lyon was bowling in tandem with Hartley, a tactic to which Evison and Stewart responded with selective attack rather than dull quiescence.

Stewart showed a particular keenness to swat Lyon through the off side whenever the Australian pitched short and brought up the pair’s fifty partnership when he thumped Hartley over long-on for six. 

Only six balls could be bowled after tea before a brief interruption for rain and shortly after the players returned, Evison reached his fifty off 117 balls with a single off Lyon.

But joy in the away dressing-room was short-lived as Stewart was caught by Luke Wells off the very next delivery when he pushed forward with uncharacteristic caution and nicked a simple catch to slip. 

Balderson ended the day with three for 62 and Lyon took two for 42, while Williams, who took two for 28 from 15 overs, needs just one more to bring up his 200 in first-class cricket.    

Kent all-rounder, Grant Stewart, said: “In the first hour of play, it looked like there wasn’t a helluva lot going on but then there was a period there when it looked as though everything was going on.”

“But Joey steadied the ship there and then Joe Denly faced a lot of balls and consolidated the innings. We’re probably a few short of where we want to but we’ll fight again tomorrow and hopefully get a few more.”

“It’s good to be back [this was Stewart’s first game of the season] and Joey’s been one of our form batters, so it was nice to be out there with him and to try and feed him some of the strike.”

“Nathan’s a very good bowler and he got me out in the end but I grew up in Australia, so I was more excited to play against him and face him more than anything.”

“It was a good challenge and it was a shame to get out to him in the end. He bowled a lot faster than a lot of the spinners I’ve faced and he’s pretty accurate as you know. He did me in the end coming forward to him.”

Lancashire all-rounder, George Balderson, said: 

“That was a good day. When you choose to bowl first you want to make some early inroads into their top order and I thought we did that well this morning. We went through periods of the day where we had little luck. We beat the bat a lot and a few close decisions turned down.”

“We stuck at it, toiled away and in the end I think we can be proud of our efforts today. We’ve spoken a lot in the last few weeks about having patience with the ball and bowling in partnerships. Try to back each other up and stick to the task. I thought we did that very well this morning.”

“They were 40 for none, we were beating the bat a lot and it could be easy to go away from the initial plan and try something different. But we stuck with the plan, knew it was going to work on that pitch and we got our rewards later on for it.”

“I felt in good rhythm today. There’s a little bit more grass on the pitch than we’re used to and having the lights on seemed to help. We had to hit the top of off stump and that suits my style of bowling.”

“I’m proud of the effort from everyone. I was the one who ended picking up three wickets but it could be anyone who got all the wickets today.”