Kent on top at Canterbury
Kent on top at Canterbury

On a day when young, top-order batsmen shone for their respective clubs, Zak Crawley hit a fluent 56 not out to give Kent the advantage on the opening day of their Specsavers County Championship clash with Glamorgan in Canterbury.

Chasing their fifth successive red-ball win and their 10th of the Championship summer, Kent reached stumps on 93 for two with Crawley and night watchman Harry Podmore still at the crease.

Starting their response to Glamorgan’s 186 all out soon after 4pm, Kent set out their stall to play positively as Zak Crawley plundered six boundaries in the early exchanges.

At the other end, however, Sean Dickson struggled to get the ball away and, after battling for 27 minutes, fenced a lifter from Timm van der Gugten to Stephen Cook at slip.

Crawley cover drove Craig Meschede for his ninth boundary to raise his fourth championship half-century of the campaign off 62 balls as he and Joe Denly marked their 50 partnership inside 13 overs.

Off-spinner Kieran Bull broke the 65-run stand shortly before the close by having Denly caught behind down the leg-side for 30 to send Kent into the second day facing a deficit of 93 runs.

Earlier, Glamorgan’s rookie No3 Jack Murphy batted almost four-and-a-half hours for a career-best 80 that left promotion-chasing Kent frustrated.

The tall left-hander from Pembrokeshire faced 182 balls and hit 13 fours during a stylish, yet dogged knock that ended in him becoming last man out with his side 14 short of a bonus batting point.

After losing five wickets in the opening session, Glamorgan appeared to have little hope of reaching 200, but Murphy – who scored 54 and 39 not out in Glamorgan’s six-wicket Championship defeat to Kent at Sophia Gardens in May – proved his mettle in playing Matt Henry, Kent’s star paceman, with aplomb.

Henry took three wickets in the morning session and bagged four for 45 overall after finally ending Murphy’s stay for his 70th championship scalp of the season in only his 10th red-ball start for the Hop County.

Glamorgan, the basement side in Division 2, elected to bat first after winning the toss on a bright and breezy Kentish morning but suffered their first casualty in the fourth over when Nick Selman pushed half-forward to a Darren Stevens delivery that knocked back leg stump via a thick inside edge.

After switching ends to have the gusting wind at his back, Henry, the New Zealand right-armer, proved a much tougher proposition plying his trade in away-swingers from the Pavilion End.

The championship’s leading wicket-taker had Stephen Cook well held at gully when pushing at a wide one, then Kiran Carlson prodded down the line of fourth stump to feather a low catch to slip.

Podmore pulled off a stunning catch on the run at wide mid-on after Jeremy Lawlor, when aiming to work Henry through mid-wicket, lofted the chance via a leading edge.

Five balls before lunch, Grant Stewart found extra lift from the Nackington Road End to have Chris Cooke caught behind then, soon after the resumption, Meschede stopped his intended push drive against Stewart to be caught in the cordon.

Murphy and Ruaidhri Smith combined to add 42 before the latter was caught at mid-off against Stevens and Stewart changed ends to uproot Kieran Bull’s off stump with a full-length away swinger to join Henry with three wickets.

Murphy ploughed on to reach only his second half-century from 111 balls and with eight fours, before van der Gugten became the first player in the match to fall to spin after feathering a Denly leg-spinner to slip.

With his side nine down, Murphy perished to his first overly expansive shot of the day. Clearing his front leg, the youngster heaved off the back foot to pick out long-off and gift Henry his fourth scalp.

Glamorgan skipper Michael Hogan said: “We’ve struggled a bit today if I’m honest. It’s a pretty good wicket, which is why I went for the toss and batted but going into lunch five down doesn’t help your cause.

“We fought back and I thought Jack Murphy played really nicely but it’s a shame we didn’t really have anyone to stay in there with him.

“We took a couple of wickets, but we’re a little bit behind the eight ball and need to take some early wickets in the morning. We need the conditions in our favour for the seamers in the morning, but it is offering a little bit of spin for Kieran Bull, which might make it interesting if we can take our second innings deeper and bring spin into the match.

“The wind made it a little bit tricky for us bowlers today, it was tough to deal with and I was disappointed with the way I went about it today. My four overs this afternoon weren’t up to scratch and, when I’m asking the boys to set the tone, I have to be disappointed when I come out and perform below par.”

Kent all-rounder Grant Stewart, who took three wickets in the Glamorgan innings, said: “I thought it was a fairly good effort from our boys today. It looks a pretty good wicket and a little different to what we’ve seen here previously this year, so we’re happy with our efforts on day one.

“There’s not as much seam movement as we’ve had here, but swing came into play which benefits me, but the lads bowled well as a group. Harry Podmore went wicketless and bowled as well as anyone, but that’s what we’re doing well this year – bowling well as a unit.

“Zak Crawley has been playing well of late, he will be the first to admit he’s not got the weight of runs overall that he would have liked, but he’s a proper player already who will develop into a serious player of the future. I’m looking forward to him cashing in for a big one tomorrow.”