Kent facing uphill struggle
Kent facing uphill struggle

Centuries from Dominic Sibley and Will Rhodes left Warwickshire strongly-placed against Kent in the Specsavers County Championship Division Two title-showdown at Edgbaston.

Both openers struck their fourth championship centuries of the season as the home side amassed 380, securing a first innings lead of 213.

Sibley made 119 from 287 balls with 12 fours (the former Surrey player’s third century in four innings) while Rhodes scored 110 from 148 balls with 16 fours and a six.

Joe Denly (three for 48) and Harry Podmore (three for 67) did most to restrict the deficit to a point at which their side at least has a toehold in the game.

Kent then reached the close on 38 for one in a match they now need to win to take the Division Two title. Having taken more bonus points than Kent from the game, Warwickshire will finish top if the match is drawn so Kent need to bat very big second time around to give themselves  a chance of stealing the title in spectacular fashion.

Warwickshire resumed on the second morning on 148 without loss and the opening stand reached 176 before Rhodes left a straight ball from Grant Stewart and was bowled.

Ian Bell’s departure, lbw to Harry Podmore, brought Jonathan Trott to the crease in his farewell game in first-class cricket. Kent’s players gave the former England player a guard of honour as he reached the middle but their hospitality ended there. After 26 minutes, in which he scored eight runs from 13 balls, he was on his way, brilliantly caught by Darren Stevens at mid-wicket off Podmore.

While Sibley’s concentration remained high after lunch, with the pitch starting to turn, Adam Riley dismissed Sam Hain and Tim Ambrose lbw and Denly trapped Keith Barker the same way. Sibley’s 383-minute stay was then ended by a slip catch by Sean Dickson off Matt Henry on the stroke of tea.

Podmore ousted Olly Stone with the fifth lbw of the innings but ninth-wicket pair Chris Wright (38, 78 balls, five fours) and Jeetan Patel (32, 47 balls three fours) added 55 in 12 overs to lift the lead over 200.

With 15 overs to bat before stumps, Kent openers Dickson and Zak Crawley negotiated 12.5 of them before the former edged Stone to Sibley at second slip. The visitors have a lot of batting to do to retain a chance of pipping their hosts for the Division Two crown.

Warwickshire first-team coach Jim Troughton said:

“We had to work hard with the bat to build on the good position Sibs and Rhodesy put us in. The Kent bowlers bowled in good areas and there was a little bit of turn there so it wasn’t easy to score at times. I think we’ve done really well to carve out a 200-run lead.

“We’ve given ourselves an opportunity if we bowl with discipline tomorrow and put them under pressure at each end. We’ve got to make Kent work for every single run. Kent have got to win the game which makes them quite dangerous. It’s a lot of runs to be in front on that wicket to we have got to make sure we make them work hard. If we show the skills with the ball that we showed in the first innings and have shown all year, and catch really well, we can put them under pressure.”


Kent bowler Harry Podmore said:

“Warwickshire are a very good side and their two openers showed what can happen if you apply yourself on a wicket like this. We’re still looking to win the game so we’ll come out tomorrow and apply ourselves and see where that takes us.

“I enjoyed bowling on that pitch, there is something there if you bend your back. But I think we can say in the first innings, batting and bowling, that we weren’t up to our best. We didn’t hit the standards we have shown all season. That just shows what happens when you are not at your best against a good side.

“There is some turn and Joe and Adam bowled superbly and showed what can happen if you put the ball in the right areas. If we can get 200 or so ahead, it would be a tough ask for them on the last day.”