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Kent end campaign with victory
Kent end campaign with victory

On the day after they secured Division One status for another season, Kent thrashed Somerset by an innings and 151 runs the LV= Insurance County Championship at Canterbury. 

Hamid Qadri hit a career-high 87 as Kent made 492 in their first innings, a lead of 290. Although Kasey Aldridge recorded his best first class figures of six for 110, it was a day of pain for Somerset. 

Runs flew off the bat during the first hour, but when it was the visitors turn to bat they collapsed to 139 all out, Matt Quinn taking three for 14 and Nathan Gilchrist, Daniel Bell-Drummond and Qadri all taking two wickets apiece. 

The result means Kent leapfrog Somerset in the final standings and could finish as high as fifth, having been dogged by the fear of relegation for the second half of the season. 

The atmosphere at the Spitfire Ground was the most relaxed it had been all year and although Conor McKerr was removed early on for six, caught at third slip by Tom Abell off Craig Overton, the bowler limped off with an injury soon afterwards and the runs began to flow. 

Qadri might be considered as purely a spinner, but he averages over 43 in first class cricket and from his overnight score 27 not out, he raced past 50 with three boundaries off successive Jack Brooks deliveries, the third off which flew inches over the slip cordon. 

Gilchrist joined Qadri and put on 48 for the ninth wicket before he was bowled by Aldridge for 14 but Qadri then hit Green for two successive sixes and a four and he eventually fell 13 short of a maiden first class ton when he edged Aldridge behind.  

Somerset didn’t even make it to the tea interval, subsiding in 40.4 overs. Ollie Robinson was allowed to lead Kent into the field to mark his final game before leaving for Durham and he caught Andrew Umeed off Quinn for three in the third over. 

Qadri then bowled Abell middle stump for five, leaving Somerset on 19 for two at lunch.  

Quinn removed George Bartlett for four, caught by Tawanda Muyeye at short midwicket with the fifth ball of the afternoon session and Joey Evison took his maiden first class wicket for Kent when he drew an edge from James Rew, who fell for ten to a sharp catch by Daniel Bell-Drummond at third slip.  

Green was then dropped by Jack Leaning off Gilchrist and at this point a West Country voice in the crowd yelled: “Come on Somurrrrset, you’ve kept them up now get on with it!” In the next over Green was caught behind off Bell-Drummond. 

When Bell-Drummond then had Tom Lammonby caught by Zak Crawley at first slip for 23, Overton limped on without a runner immediately smacked a four, but he was clearly struggling and Nathan Gilchrist soon sent Aldridge’s off stump cartwheeling for 15. 

Gilchrist then had Overton caught by Crawley for a brave 12 and despite some entertaining swinging from Sajid Khan, who made 40 from 19 balls , the victory was confirmed when, having hit Qadri for successive sixes, he tried his luck for a third time and was caught on the boundary by Muyeye. 

Kent’s Matt Walker said: “I think the last two weeks have been incredible, with that sense of backs against the wall. We knew these two games were going to be really critical and to see the fight and desire, and skill on show when it really mattered was exceptional.  

“We talk a lot in the dressing room about that character and when it really counts who’s going to put their hand up and I think in these two games everybody’s put their hand up. They’ve been two team performances and that was probably what we’ve lacked a bit this season. 

“This week was a different type of win on a different type of surface but I thought it was equally impressive, on a really good cricket wicket. We outplayed a really good Somerset side in three days. It shows that desire is there and that hunger and how people rise to the challenge. To finish like that is great, if we could bottle these last two games, the attitude, skill, belief and confidence and bring that to the start of next season then hopefully we’ll be looking towards the top rather than scrapping at the bottom.”  

Kent’s Jack Leaning said: “A few games ago we were obviously in a little bit of strife and we weren’t quite playing our best cricket in the championship, but I think the way the boys in the 50 over comp played so well to win six in row and then go and win the final, I think a lot of that momentum then passed over into the championship last week. 

“With the injuries it was a very similar team so it’s amazing what a bit of momentum can do, regardless of the format of the cricket. The boys were pretty confident going into last week, albeit against a strong Hampshire team and then to get the win as a team was probably the most pleasing thing. 

“Luckily I lost the toss on the first morning because we were going to bat as well! It’s funny how things work out. The way the boys bowled first out really set the tone for the game, it’s probably an area where we’ve struggled this year with bat and ball in those first couple of sessions and we’ve ended up chasing a lot. It was really pleasing to see Zak play the way he did going into the winter and for Tawanda to get an opportunity to carry on from the way we played the week before. 

“I think last week Hampshire really messed up with what they did with the pitch and we took advantage of that. We battled really hard to get ourselves to a score of 150, 160, which was incredibly competitive, as their first innings showed and they way we managed to capitalise second innings and get a big lead, we managed to drive the game again, which is something we didn’t do earlier in the season.” 

Kent’s Hamid Qadri said (of his career best innings): “The sky is the limit, I just keep striving forward and work hard with Tendo and Walksie in the nets. I’ve worked hard on my batting over the last couple of winter, so I went out there and had fun. The days when batters could just bat and bowlers could just bowl are over.

“The initial plan was just trying to get through Craig Overton’s spell because he’s their best bowler, and Aldridge. Once we got through that it was about picking the right options and picking the right bowlers, playing a bit smart. 

“I think our bowlers just bowled really well, we went at twos in the first and the second innings so huge credit goes to Gilchrist and Quinn.”  

Somerset’s Tom Abell said: “We’ve obviously been humbled by Kent this week. There was a special feeling about last week because we were down in a relegation scrap and it meant a lot to us and everyone connected with the club to stay up. It was a great feeling, but obviously turning up this week, we were intent on finishing well and not resting on our laurels after that win and I feel that from the Lancashire game a few weeks ago I felt like we’d played some better four-day cricket, we were more competitive and had some tough fought draws. I felt we were building nicely and I was really excited about this week to be honest, but the manner of our defeat is gutting. It’s left a pretty horrible feeling to be honest, given how far we’d come in the last few months with our red ball cricket. 

“Sometimes it can be difficult to keep things in perspective. Going into the last month of the season our big challenge was to stay up. That’s obviously not where we want to be, we don’t want to be at that end of the table but that was our reality and we did that (secured survival) last week, but we’ve gone out with a whimper which is particularly disappointing. 

“Obviously we’ve just lost heavily and that’s disappointing but I’ve got belief in the squad and I’m a proud Somerset boy and Somerset is honestly the most incredible club to play for, it means so much to so many people. We talk about it all the time, the support we get is phenomenal. We do have some exciting youg players and over the next few years it’s going to be exciting to see those guys blossom.” 

Picture supplied by Kent Cricket.