KSN are proud to support:

Leaning leads Kent fightback
Leaning leads Kent fightback

A dogged 152 from Jack Leaning gave Kent a fighting chance of saving their Vitality County Championship match with Worcestershire at Canterbury, steering them to 362 for eight at stumps.

The hosts still trail by 256 after an attritional third day, but Jack Leaning batted through all three sessions and Beyers Swanepoel made 54 on his debut to boost their hopes of grinding out a draw on day four.

Matthew Waite took three for 51 but on a wicket that offered little joy for the bowlers, Worcestershire took just six wickets during a sapping day in the field.

Kent began day three on 111 for two and were untroubled for the first half hour. Leaning reached 50 for the first time in 11 first-class innings when he cut Smith through backward point for two, but Waite then produced a twin jab that briefly left them reeling. He bowled Daniel Bell-Drummond for 67, clipping his off stump with a straight one, then had Joe Denly lbw after just four balls.

Leaning and Harry Finch steadied the ship, steering Kent to 179 for four at lunch, but after surviving for 106 balls Finch tried to drive Waite and was caught at cover by Rob Jones.

That, however, was the visitors only success during the afternoon session. The track and the outfield were both catatonic and this, combined with some coltish Worcestershire fielding, drastically limited the flow of boundaries, with 21 overs passing before the new ball arrived and Joey Evison punched Waite through the covers.

Having batted for exactly five hours, Leaning reached three figures just before tea when he drove Jason Holder through cow corner and although Evison edged both Gibson’s final two balls before tea, neither carried to Holder at slip, leaving the hosts on 250 for five, although it was a short-lived reprieve as he bottom-edged Waite behind in the second over after the resumption and was out for 27.

Leaning and Swanepoel had to resist the urge to go all-out for a second batting point, but they came frustratingly close, falling just three runs short at the 110 over mark. Leaning cracked the first ball of the next over for four.

Swanepoel belied a jittery start and played with increasing fluency, although he rode his luck at times, nearly chopping Holder on to the stumps for the two that saw him reach his half-century, before he was eventually lbw to Brett D’Oliveira in the 122nd.

Leaning passed 150 and the game seemed to be meandering until Kashif Ali gave the visitors some renewed momentum when he bowled Wes Agar for six with the final ball of the penultimate over, to set up a potentially fascinating final day.

Kent’s Jack Leaning said: “It was really enjoyable to be honest. On a personal note I’ve probably not had the explosive start to the season that I would have liked so I was keen to try and make an impact today and luckily I’ve had a decent day with the bat.

“I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t get a century last year. I probably let a few things get to me a little bit more than they should have done, coupled with the tough end to the season and trying to stay up. This year I’m just trying to help in every way I can with Deebs (Daniel Bell-Drummond) and actually back to concentrating on scoring runs myself. Hopefully this can kick start me on to getting a few big scores.

“I just tried and stay in the moment and enjoy it because it’s much better out there feeling tired than it is sat watching, so I just take it ball by ball and keep focused on my routines.

“It’s a really slow pitch so it’s quite tough to score if they hit their areas and it’s just getting lower and lower, but credit to them, they bowled really well today and didn’t really give us much. Hopefully we can do something tomorrow and get a draw.

“Beyers looks a seriously good player. He hits the ball really cleanly and I imagine there will be a few people looking forward to seeing him when we get the white ball in a few weeks time. I really liked the way he bowled as well, on a slightly quicker pitch with a bit more life in it he’d have got his rewards.”

Worcestershire’s Kadeer Ali said: “I thought it was a really good effort from all the bowlers today, four sessions in the field, to go for two and a half an over and for 96 overs today. I’m really proud of the boys.

“We know it’s a slow wicket and there’s not much in it for the bowlers but they stuck at it all day and they were brilliant. The energy levels were good and we tried to create as much as we could. Matthew Waite is having a really good game after his hundred yesterday and he bowled with really good discipline. He kept the stumps in play and his line and length were immaculate.

“(Ben Gibbon) was really unlucky not to get a wicket, he uses his angles coming round the wicket and over the wicket, swung the ball late and he deserved more than what he got. On another day he’d get five wickets there.

“It was an excellent innings from Jack Leaning. He showed some good discipline, set his stall out to bat the whole day and he’s done that beautifully. He showed good concentration defended straight and did exactly the things we talk about with our batting unit.

“We were thinking if we could get them eight or nine down tonight it would be nice and we can pick up one or two in the morning. It was a crucial wicket there from Kash, it gives us a chance tomorrow. You never know, cricket’s a funny game.”