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Lancashire set to thrash Kent
Lancashire set to thrash Kent

Lancashire were closing in on a huge victory in their Vitality County Championship with Kent at Canterbury, having reduced the hosts to 143 for six at stumps on day three.

Kent still trail by 162 with just four second innings wickets remaining, Charlie Stobo and Beyers Swanepoel the not out batters on 25 and 18 respectively.

Lancashire declared on 549 for nine, a lead of 305, with Josh Bohannon making 205 and Matty Hurst 50, while George Garrett took three for 89.

Will Williams and Tom Bailey then both took two wickets apiece to leave Kent six down at stumps. Ben Compton was their highest scorer with just 37 and the chances of them escaping with anything other than a heavy defeat to their relegation rivals are bleak.

The only question at the start of day three was how long Lancashire were going to bat for, with a lead of 158 already in the bank, although for a side who’d been pummelled for four straight sessions Kent at least managed to stop Lancashire from scoring too freely.

Bohannon reached his double-hundred with a pushed single off Matt Parkinson, before his former team mate finally got him out lbw with a ball that might have been going down the leg side.

Matty Hurst eased to fifty with a single off Joey Evison but he was then stumped by Harry Finch when he tried to charge at Parkinson.

It was 499 for six at lunch, during which a band called the “Useless Pluckers” performed, prompting one Lancastrian observer to remark: “they’re not Goons’N’Roses.”

Garrett took all three of his wickets after the interval, which at least prevented an onslaught. Jack Blatherwick tried to hit him out of the ground and went for 18, caught by sub fielder Jaydn Denly.Garrett then had George Balderson caught behind for 42 and when Bailey skied him to Parkinson, Lancashire declared.

They didn’t have to wait long for a wicket: Williams had Marcus O’Riordan caught at first slip by George Bell for four in the fourth over.

Nathan Lyon came on after 12 overs but it was George Balderson who struck next, pinning Daniel Bell-Drummond lbw for nine to leave Kent on 59 for two at tea.

Compton always looked like being the key wicket but he inexplicably tried to slog Bailey and the ball flew in the air off his bottom edge. He spread his arms wide in despair well before Bell took the catch when the ball finally fell to earth.

Williams sent Joey Evison’s off stump flying for 10, Bailey had Tawanda Muyeye caught behind for a six-ball duck and Finch lasted for 56 balls for 23 until Lyon had him caught by Bohannon at mid-on.

Swanepoel, who’d been unable to bowl, came out with O’Riordan as a runner and caused confusion by running anyway, but he and Charlie Stobo at least managed to drop anchor for the final 11.4 overs to take the game to a final day.

Lancashire’s Dale Benkenstein: “It’s been nice to watch. We’ve obviously had a tough start in the championship and a few batters who were short of runs, so it was nice for them to get stuck in and I think what was really pleasing was that when Wellsie and Bosh got in they really made it count so that’s what I think we’re used. It’s great to be in this position, it’s now about finishing it off.

“Cricket doesn’t hand anything to you on a plate. There’s been quite a lot of hard work. I do feel that as a batter when you haven’t scored runs and you do get in, you’re even hungrier to make a big one and that shows they’re two very experienced and seriously talented batters. It’s great to see it happen but when you going through a tough time you don’t know when that rot’s going to stop.

“I think on day on the weather was telling us to bat first but there was a little bit in there and I just thought we can try and use that as well as we can. We didn’t bowl when in the first session but we were excellent from then onwards.

“I also think the T20 probably came at a good time as well. Definitely the win against Durham was a great win, a hard-fought game against a very good side. That just gave us a bit of belief again and I d think the T20s have helped. It’s nice to win, you feel you’re gaining confidence all the time. It feels like the machines going again.

“(On the upcoming game at Southport) It will be Nathan (Lyon’s) last game and it’ll be great to give him a good send off. He’s been fantastic for us and also Jimmy (Anderson) will be ready to play, so to see the two of them going together will be fantastic for the crowd and the spectators to watch two of the greats playing on a club ground. There are not many sports where you get that.”

Ben Compton said: “The scores speak for themselves to be honest. I don’t think there’s any denying we’ve been completely outskilled in this match and probably the other matches to. Whether it’s following on from the white ball matches and it’s kind of seeped into here but actually we’ve not quite executed our kills well enough.

“I know that’s a cliché but at the end of the day that’s what’s happening. We’ve been on the receiving end of an excellent blueprint on how to play four-day cricket. You make the most of the bowling conditions on the first day, get us out for a score that was probably a hundred shy at least and then there were three glorious days of sunshine and they made us toil.

“We spent a lot of time in the field, were unable to get them out and all those sorts of things add difficulty to batting. Following on there’s pressure, they’ve got their tails up, you’re a bit tired, you know these things happen and unfortunately we’ve just been completely outskilled.

“There’s no lack of effort, just in terms of what we’re delivering it isn’t quite good enough to be honest. We’ve got to try and see what we can salvage tomorrow. Everyone’s maintaining the highest levels of professionalism, we’re trying our very best but it boils down to the skill factor at the end of the day.”