Kent win Division Three title
Kent win Division Three title

Kent Cricket were confirmed as Division Three winners of the County Championship on Friday when they defeated Middlesex in Canterbury.

The Spitfires began day four needing 98 runs more runs for victory with five wickets left in the hutch, and despite losing Tawanda Muyeye for 89 and Darren Stevens and Marcus O’Riordan along the way, an unbeaten 37 from 33 balls from Grant Stewart helped Kent over the line to secure a victory in their last game of the season.

The first runs of the day arrived in the opening over, when Tawanda Muyeye flicked Ethan Bamber fine for four runs. The 20-year-old continued to leave well as he entered the 80s, and he pulled Ethan Bamber for four as he began to ooze confidence.

There was heartbreak for Muyeye however when he was run out on 89. He set off for a quick single and Darren Stevens at the other end didn’t. Muyeye turned to get back but couldn’t in time, and Toby Roland-Jones threw down the stumps to trigger heartbreak for Muyeye with Kent still needing 78 to win.

Stevens was dropped at second slip on 14 before a good LBW appeal was turned down the ball after as things began to get tense, and he was on his way soon after when Sam Robson took a diving catch at second slip off the bowling of Toby Roland-Jones.

New man Grant Stewart cut for four and followed it up with another boundary, and Marcus O’Riordan copied with two of his own to take the required runs to win below 50. A Stewart pull from a Martin Andersson bouncer flew over John Simpson’s head for four, and flicked Roland-Jones for another to move to 20 from 14 balls.

Kent passed 350 for the innings as the task for Middlesex got harder, and the visitors showed one last card in the form of spin and Luke Hollman with hopes fading. Stewart however delt his latest four as Hollman dragged down, but Martin Andersson struck at the other end to have O’Riordan caught at slip with Kent 15 away.

Cover almost caught Stewart but for a few inches, however overthrows almost saw Kent over the line. There was still time for a huge appeal for a catch to be turned down, and Matt Milnes edged the winning runs to see Kent over the line for a two-wicket victory. 

The win confirmed Kent as Division Three winners after four victories from four games in the second half of the season.

Kent’s Tawanda Muyeye said: “Everyone’s buzzing. We came back from Birmingham with everyone a bit slumped and tired from the celebrations so we had to muster up the energy to come out here and win. Younger guys like me and Ollie Robinson had to step up and show what we could do.”

“I was pretty happy because I haven’t batted for long enough this season and I’ve thrown my wicket away at times, but Ollie and I open the batting in the 50-over stuff and we tried to do better here.”

“Yesterday we managed to do what we wanted to do and just break it down into small patches. We can all bat deep, Nathan bats like Kevin Pietersen in then nets. There was no doubt in my mind we were going to win this game.” 

Middlesex’s Tim Murtagh said: “It was a really good game of four-day cricket and a really good advertisement for championship cricket, going into the final day with all results possible. I’m really proud of the boys.”

“We’re at the back end of a long hard season and a lot of our guys have played a lot more cricket this season that they ever have done, so there are some pretty tired, weary bodies. Credit to the boys, they kept going, even right at the end there they were picking up wickets at the death. It could have gone either way at the end.”  

Picture supplied by Kent Cricket.