KSN are proud to support:

Kent retain Championship status
Kent retain Championship status

Kent marked “Stevo Day” at Canterbury by securing survival in Division One of the LV= Insurance County Championship, reaching 405 for seven in reply to Somerset’s 202 all out, a lead of 203. 

Kent already have taken all eight available bonus points and Warwickshire’s declaration against Hampshire at Edgbaston means their relegation rivals can now only overhaul Yorkshire.

The hosts honoured Darren Stevens’ 18-season contribution by announcing they were retiring his number three shirt and his teammates rose to the occasion, with Nathan Gilchrist taking career best figures of six for 61. 

Lewis Goldsworthy was Somerset’s top scorer with 94, but he added just a single to his overnight score.  

Tawanda Muyeye and Zak Crawley then responded with an opening stand of 176, the former making 85, the latter 79, while in his last match before joining Durham, Ollie Robinson made 52.

Gilchrist had taken two wickets from the final two deliveries before bad light stopped play on day one, leaving Jack Brooks to face the hat-trick ball at the star of the morning session. He survived a hopeful appeal but the visitors had added just seven to their overnight score of 195 for nine when Goldsworthy was caught behind off Gilchrist, six runs short of his hundred. 

Kent’s openers belied the freezing conditions and heavy cloud cover, slashing Somerset’s lead to 53 by lunch, Crawley playing with measured brutality and Muyeye whip-cracking elegance. At one point Crawley creamed Tom Lammonby for three successive fours and he reached 50 with a smartly flicked single off Kasey Aldridge, while Muyeye, looking almost regal, reached the same landmark with a scampered single off the same bowler. 

Stevens was introduced to a sizable St. Lawrence crowd of 1042 during the interval and shown a montage of his greatest moments, before walking around the boundary for an understated but moving lap of honour, shaking hands with members and posing for selfies. 

Somerset were looking desperate after lunch, with Craig Overton yelling “how’s that?” after Muyeye was caught off his shoulder, then screaming “HOW’S THAT?” when he didn’t get the reply he wanted. 

However, the partnership was broken with the next ball when Ben Green hit Crawley’s middle stump. Muyeye was caught behind off Aldridge soon afterwards, four short of his highest-first class score. 

Daniel Bell-Drummond and Joe Denly put on 61 for the next wicket before the former’s middle stump was sent cartwheeling by Aldridge for 36. 

Aldridge claimed his next victim after rain caused an early tea interval, when he had Denly caught on the square leg boundary by Sajid Khan, but another stand between Olli Robinson and Jack Leaning took the lead past 150.  

Khan removed both men, getting Leaning caught by Abell for 41 and bowling Robinson in his net over. He then caught Joey Evison off Aldridge for 21, but Hamid Qadri was unbeaten on 27 when bad light stopped play at 5.37pm, having cracked a four to take the score past 400 and earn an eighth bonus point. 

With rain falling at the St. Lawrence news came through that their main relegation rivals Warwickshire had declared on 274 for four at Edgbaston, meaning they can get a maximum of 22 points. Even if Kent lose from this position and the sides finish level on points, Kent would stay up having won more games.  

Kent’s Zak Crawley said: “We knew (securing Division One status today) was possible if Warwickshire didn’t get 350, but we thought they were going to get 350, so we were surprised when they declared. It’s obviously great news and everyone’s pretty pleased, but we still want to win this game. 

“We definitely want to win, there’s still a chance we can finish fifth which given where we’ve been this year is actually remarkable, but there’s a lot to play for in every game and you try to win no matter what it’s for. We’re still going to play hard and we’re in a good position. 

“I don’t think we ever doubted we’d get out of it. I think we knew the talent was here, we just hadn’t put anything together at the start. There were a couple of individuals like Compo and Gilly who started well but apart from that were a bit sporadic with our performances and it seems like as a team we’re starting to put it together towards the back end. Which we normally do actually! If we could start doing this early in the season we’d be a top side. 

(On his stand with Tawanda Muyeye) “We tried to show that intent. We kept the good balls out, put the bad balls away and T batted brilliantly for someone so young. To put a good bowling attack like that to the sword was class.” 

Kent’s Darren Stevens said: “It’s very emotional. I think it took it out of me last week, before the (Royal London Cup) final. There was a lot of thinking time over that week and in the build up to the final and then the day was an amazing day, bringing home the trophy to top it off was really nice. 

“Our job as professional cricketers is to win trophies for Kent and at the end of it I’ve got three trophies to my name for the club. Obviously we’d have loved to have won more and the one that gets me is the (county) championship. Not winning that is the one I’ll look back on and be a bit disappointed about, but obviously three trophies in the cabinet is nice.” 

(His favourite moments). “There’s a few. Obviously the trophies are the big ones, but I was going through a tough time in 2013 and that last game against Lancs stands out for me. We needed 480 and I don’t think they’d lost. Actually I thought that was me done and dusted. The trophies are number one, but emotionally the one that does stand out is probably that innings.” 

Somerset’s Jason Kerr said: “Craig Overton was unfortunate, there’s no doubt about that, he went past the bat a lot but at no point did we sustain any pressure. We got hit both sides of the wicket and it was a very poor day for us. We were sloppy in the field. If I was rating the day out of ten it was five or five and a half. We did some really good stuff at times but for nowhere near long enough. 

“It’s incredibly frustrating because it’s not how this side represents Somerset. I haven’t seen a day like that for a long time. 

“I don’t think (Kent will declare).  There’s enough time left in the game certainly, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they batted on. They’re safe now and they’ll go for the win, but I think they’ll make it so there’s only one team that can win the game. 

“There’s no doubt, we’ve just had an honest conversation in the dressing room now and it’s a fantastic opportunity (for a rearguard action). The new ball’s going to do something but the wicket’s certainly got a little bit easier as the day’s gone on. Conditions are set fair for two days and I think it’s personal pride now. Some guys have had brilliant seasons in there and some are fighting for opportunities, so there’s no better way of finishing the season than doing well as an individual.”