Kent take charge at Canterbury
Kent take charge at Canterbury

Kent lead Worcestershire by 51 runs in of their LV= Insurance County Championship match at Canterbury, reaching 184 for four at stumps on day one. 

Nathan Gilchrist took a career-best five for 39 and Matt Milnes four for 35 as Worcestershire were all out for 133, Ben Cox their top scorer with 41 not out. 

Darren Stevens and Jack Leaning were unbeaten on 56 and 52 respectively at the close, after Ollie Robinson hit 50. 

Dillon Pennington took three for 39, but after reducing Kent to 22 for three, Worcestershire’s bowlers toiled. 

The hosts won the toss and chose to bowl in broad sunshine, a decision instantly vindicated as Milnes removed Daryl Mitchell with the fifth ball of the morning, caught by a diving Jordan Cox in the slips for four. 

Milnes then bowled Jake Libby for two before he had Tom Fell caught behind for three and Brett D’Oliveira lbw for one. When Nathan Gilchrist bowled Jack Haynes for eight the visitors were reeling on five for 32 and although Ed Barnard looked well set, he was caught behind off Stevens for 25. 

Joe Leach and Cox steered Worcestershire to 91 for six at lunch, during which Milnes became the 220th Kent player to be awarded a county cap.  

The visitors made a steady start to the afternoon session only for Gilchrist to take the final four wickets for 14 runs. Leach’s off stump was pinged back for 38 and two balls later Josh Baker was bowled for a duck after a hideous leave. Pennington was then lbw for three and Adam Finch bowled for two, giving Gilchrist his first five-wicket haul in red-ball cricket. 

Kent’s reply started shakily with Pennington removing both openers cheaply, Zak Crawley caught behind for four and Jordan Cox caught by Baker for one. Joe Denly was then lbw to Leach for 9 but Leaning and Robinson put on 75 for the next wicket before the latter was caught behind off Pennington. 

Stevens joined Leaning and steered Kent past Worcestershire’s first innings total before reaching his 50 from with a single off Baker. Leaning cut Finch for four to reach his half-century, putting Kent in a dominant position at the end of day one. 

Following the conclusion of India’s second innings at The Oval, Sam Billings has been released from England duty and will be able to bat, replacing Marcus O’Riordan. 

Kent’s Nathan Gilchrist said: “ Matt Milnes is bowling like Dale Steyn at the moment, you can’t stop him. He bowled really well again and all of us in the beginning were just a supporting act to him.”  

On taking five wickets: “It was a bit unexpected really. The conditions this morning were quite friendly to us and I think we used them really well.”  

On taking two in three balls just after taking advice on the boundary from Simon Cook: “A few of us were joking because it seemed like he said some magic words. He was just talking to me about fielding plans, but he must have done something for it work out that well. It seems like it’s been moving around quite a bit today, but I think as the sun was beating down on the wicket it got a bit flatter. Hopefully it’ll be similar tomorrow and we can cash in.” 

Kent’s Matt Milnes said: “I think it was probably our day, I thought we probably had the better of the conditions with the 10.30 start, but we still had to put it in the right areas consistently and then the boys at the end there really put us in a strong position. I’ve been trying to find some rhythm recently in red-ball cricket and I feel like I’ve found it. I made a few changes.” 

On getting his cap: “It’s a pretty special moment. I didn’t have a clue it was happening and it was very nice my family could be there as well.”  

Worcestershire’s Dillan Pennington said: “It was a tough day. I think they bowled really well. This morning, first thing Milnes was excellent and then they backed it up. They kept bowling balls in the right area and it showed how difficult it was. It showed when we put it in the right area how difficult it was for them, so I think we’ll reflect on it. 

“We’ve probably not stacked as well as we wanted to as a bowling group so hopefully tomorrow we’ll hit the top of off and the ball can do its thing. The good balls nipped and did a bit, but as soon as I bowled a bad ball it went for four.”