Northeast stars as Spitfires downed
Northeast stars as Spitfires downed

Former Spitfires’ captain Sam Northeast silenced his Kentish critics with an unbeaten century that helped steer Hampshire to an emphatic 90-run Royal London One-Day Cup victory over Kent in Canterbury.

In a replay of last season’s 50-over Lord’s final which also went Hampshire’s way by 61 runs, the visitors made decent use of a good pitch to post 310 for nine. After which, James Vince’s side bowled and fielded with intent under the floodlights to dismiss Spitfires for 220 and fully deserve their win in this season’s opening round of south group fixtures.

Returning to the Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence for the first time since his somewhat acrimonious departure to the south coast at the end of 2017, Northeast – who was roundly booed by Kent fans during last year’s RLODC Lord’s showpiece – let his bat do the talking with an unbeaten 105 including seven fours and two sixes.

Kent’s pursuit of 311 misfired early with the loss of three wickets inside six overs. Daniel Bell-Drummond, squared up by late away movement was caught from a leading edge at cover off Kyle Abbott, then Australian Matt Renshaw, on his home debut, edged an attempted drive against Chris Wood to be caught behind.

Heino Kuhn, Spitfires top RLODC-scorer last season with almost 700 runs at an average of 87, departed for nought when Abbott deflected a Zak Crawley drive onto the stumps to run out Kent’s interim captain at the non-striker’s end.

In front of a crowd of almost 2,000, Crawley and Alex Blake doubled the total before Blake played around a turning delivery from Liam Dawson to go leg before, then Crawley, when one short of his 50, set off in search of a suicidal single to mid-wicket to be run out by Aiden Markram’s throw to the bowler’s end.

Abbott picked up a second when Adam Rouse sparred outside off to be caught behind by counterpart Alsop and, when Darren Stevens sliced a drive against Mason Crane to deep cover to make it 149 for seven, Kent’s outside hopes of victory went with him.

Batting first after losing the toss Hampshire managed a workmanlike total courtesy of Northeast’s unbeaten ton and belligerent 50s from Vince and Rilee Rossouw.

On his competition debut Matt Milnes, a winter recruit from Nottinghamshire, marked his home bow for Kent with two early scalps. Tom Alsop leg-glanced Milnes’s first-ball loosener to the keeper then Markram allowed a defensive push to roll back onto his stumps and gift the Kent seamer a second wicket.

Northeast marched in to polite applause for his first innings here since the switch to Hampshire and walked off 151 minutes later with an unbeaten hundred from 95 balls. Content to play himself in, Northeast paced the innings superbly reaching three figures in the 50th over.

At the other end, Vince drove imperiously in cantering to a 43-ball 50, but, as with almost all Hampshire’s dismissals, he perished when attempting a cross-batted shot after a top-edged sweep lobbed to square leg.

Rossouw, Hampshire’s century-maker in the 2018 Lord’s final, raced to 55 from 35 balls only to clip one to deep square. Dawson heaved one from Milnes to deep mid-wicket, then Milnes claimed his fifth when Aneurin Donald was caught at the wicket after gloving an attempted pull.

Fred Klaassen, the Netherlands left-arm seamer, pitched in with two for 62 on his competition debut, but Milnes proved the pick of the Spitfires’ attack with five for 79, albeit in a losing cause.

Hampshire century-maker Sam Northeast said: “We played well today without ever being right on our A game. It was important to get 300, we felt that was a par score on a really good wicket, so it was a good way to start the competition. I think we can clean up in a few areas, we were a little bit sloppy with the ball in places and, with the bat, we kept losing wickets at crucial moments and had to rebuild. Potentially, we could have gone on to get a bigger score. There were small little things that we might sharpen up.
“I thought I paced my innings really well, but guys came in and made my life really easy by playing aggressive cricket from ball one. When Rilee and I were in it felt like we’d pushed the button and could have ended up with a really big total, but Rilee got out soon after his 50 and then Liam Dawson almost straight away, we had to have a rethink and just make sure we got to 300.
“It was nice to get a good reception from the fans here this time, it was home to me for so many years and felt nice to come back and see so many faces and to walk out to no boos. I’ve played on that wicket enough times to know it pretty well now so, all in all, it felt good to be back.”
Interim Kent captain Heino Kuhn said: “Chasing 311 proved too big a total for us today. Our batters at eight, nine and 10 showed there were runs to be made on this wicket had we have put down better foundations. Maybe we didn’t have the best of the luck today, but we needed to prolong things a little more with the bat early on. We needed to build pressure then take it deep, we weren’t unable to do that.
“Credit to them because they batted well, Sam, Rille and James all played superbly to make sure it wasn’t our day. We didn’t play well enough and they did, it’s really that simple. There are positives to be had with Matt Milnes’ five-for and I felt Fred Klaassen bolwed well at the death in his first game for us. Harry Pordmore bowled well and then hit the ball sweetly for his 40. So we’ll take the good things and move on.”