Kent forced to settle for draw
Kent forced to settle for draw

Kent have drawn their LV= Insurance County Championship match with Northamptonshire, despite an engrossing final day at Canterbury. 

An obdurate Adam Rossington eventually steered the visitors to safety with an unbeaten 59, but only after a brave declaration by the home side on their overnight score of 335 for five, when they were still 62 runs behind. 

Nathan Gilchrist took three for 57 and Darren Stevens two for 42 as the hosts scented an unlikely Group Three victory, only for the game to drift away in the final session, Northamptonshire finishing on 184 for eight declared.  

With the visitors reluctant to risk the eight points for the draw by contriving a finish, Kent gambled on declaring early in the hope of recording their first win of the season and they were rewarded with four wickets in the morning session. 

Darren Stevens struck in the second over, removing Emilio Gay lbw for eight and he then had Ricardo Vasconcelos caught behind for nine. After three matches without a wicket, Miguel Cummins, on the last day of his spell with Kent, finally looked like the bowler they thought they were getting when they signed him, and a spell of serious menace saw him get Rob Keogh caught behind for 12. 

Jordan Cox then took a sharp catch at first slip off Gilchrist to remove Gareth Berg for 21, leaving Northants on 70 for four at lunch. 

The afternoon session was fascinatingly balanced: every time Northants seemed to be heading for safety, Kent took a wicket. Gilchrist struck again in his first over, getting Saif Zaib caught behind for six, but Cummings was denied a second wicket when Luke Procter, batting despite an injury, edged him to third slip, where he was put down by Marcus O’Riordan. 

After putting on 50 with Rossington, Procter was brilliantly run out for 17 by Daniel Bell-Drummond, after being sent back by his captain while attempting a single. 

Cox took another excellent slip catch off Gilchrist to dismiss Tom Taylor for 12 and when Nathan Buck was lbw for six to Joe Denly the lead was a gettable 212, with 45 overs remaining.

However, the visitors had pushed on to 156 for eight at tea and the only chance of a tepid evening session came when Simon Kerrigan was dropped at short leg by Tawanda Muyeye off Denly. The captains shook hands on the draw at 4.50pm, Kent taking 14 points and Northamptonshire 13. 

Kent’s Daniel Bell-Drummond said: “I don’t think they would have been taken by surprise too much (by the declaration) but I don’t think they knew when we were going to declare and when Joe Denly and Jordan Cox put their foot down, along with myself and Jack Leaning, I think maybe then they were thinking we’ve got a game on here.  

“It was good for both teams to be honest because any result was possible. They could have tried to get ahead and give us a little chase. It was good that there was a crowd back in and it was great that the cricket was competitive right the way through.” 

Northamptonshire’s Adam Rossington said: “We weren’t expecting that (the declaration) from the position we were in on day one. All credit to Kent they’ve played some brilliant cricket this week and they set up an entertaining final day. It caught us a little bit off guard, we came in today thinking they’d probably come out swinging and try and get as many points as they could, get a little bit past us and try and put us under a bit of pressure. 

“You’ve got to adapt quickly. They bowled very well, we were in a bit of trouble, but we’ve managed to get out of it. It’s been a good four-day match.”