Robinson ton for Kent at Canterbury
Robinson ton for Kent at Canterbury

Ollie Robinson hit a century on day one of Kent’s practice game against Essex on Monday ahead of the start of the Bob Willis Trophy on Saturday.

The 21-year-old scored 103, including 19 fours, before retiring not out towards the end of the day. He put on a 97-run stand with Jordan Cox, who made 52, for the fourth wicket, and made his ton from 144 balls halfway through the evening session.

Following a bit of rain, Essex won the toss and put Kent into bat under the clouds at the start of the day. Kent openers Daniel Bell-Drummond and Heino Kuhn faced a total of seven balls from opening bowlers Jamie Porter and Sam Cook until more rain forced the players off, but it wasn’t long until play was back underway again.

Kent started brightly, with both Bell-Drummond and Kuhn hitting early boundaries through the leg side and point respectively. The hosts dashed to 22/0 off 2.4 overs, but lost Kuhn early. The former South Africa international edged Porter behind off the first ball of the seventh over and Varun Chopra took a smart catch in the slips.

Although he took the first scalp, Porter was expensive and replaced after five overs by Matt Quinn. Cook was also replaced, by Aaron Beard, but a couple of boundaries soon brought up Kent’s 50 off exactly 12 overs.

The hosts lost their captain not long after. Chopra was in the action again at second slip, diving across Alastair Cook to take his second catch of the game and ensure Bell-Drummond was on his way for 19. Aaron Beard was the bowler, and new signing Jack Leaning made his way out to the middle to join Cox.

Leaning’s stay was short. He faced just a handful of balls before being dismissed for one by Matt Quinn, caught by wicket keeper Adam Wheater, leaving Kent 52/3 off 14.1 overs.

Ollie Robinson was in at number five, and he and Cox dug in to bat time and build a partnership. Ben Allison produced a thick outside edge from Robinson which trickled down to the third man boundary for four just before lunch, but both Robinson and Cox made it through to leave Kent 85/3 at the interval, with Cox on 26 and Robinson unbeaten on 16.

The two batsmen brought up their 50 partnership not long after lunch as Kent began to grab a hold of things. Jordan Cox continued nudging away and brought up his 50 in the 37th over from 98 balls with an inside edge than ran away for four, and Ollie Robinson, then playing slightly more aggressively, soon followed suit – the 21-year-old bringing up his half century from just 68 balls.

The partnership deserved a 100 stand, but it fell three short when Cox chopped a straight Porter delivery onto his stumps. A solid, niggly knock from the 19-year-old, and he has put his name in the hat for place in the 11 for the start of the Bob Willis trophy on Saturday.

Marcus O’Riordan, another youngster, made his way to the crease, but was soon on his way back to the pavilion after also being bowled by Porter. Darren Stevens, who was due to leave the club at the end of last season before signing a new deal, joined Robinson in the middle.

Stevens too went for a duck and Kent had suddenly lost three wickets for two runs. Porter had four, as Stevens edged to Alastair Cook at first slip, and Grant Stewart had to make his way out.

The all-rounder would have been happy to stop the rot when he got off the mark with a cover drive for one, and Robinson continued to score, pulling a short ball for four to move into the 60s. The rain made another appearance around half an hour before the scheduled tea break, and the covers were put on, resulting in tea being taken early with Kent 164/6. Robinson was not out on 62 and Stewart unbeaten on five, but it was Essex’s session for sure.

Stewart showed slight resilience but was out LBW to Quinn for 7, which brought Matt Milnes to the middle. Robinson was still standing strong despite an appeal for a catch down the leg side, and another rain delay came at the worst time for him as he was forced to wait on 98 not out.

When play resumed, the wicketkeeper-batsman made his century comfortably, securing the ton from 144 balls with 19 fours to his name. He was greeted by a round of applause before retiring not out on 103 – a successful day for him.

Milnes was then stumped by Wheater off the bowling of Nijjar for 18 which brought Hamidullah Qadri to the crease, before Harry Podmore was caught behind off the bowling of Allison for a duck leaving the hosts 227/9.

Players are allowed to bat more than once in this game, and Heino Kuhn returned to the crease following a disappointing first knock earlier in the day when opening. He hit a big six down the ground and put on a decent partnership with Qadri, but was eventually LBW to ten Doeschate for 15, meaning Kent finished their innings all out for 258 from 77.1 overs as the clock hit six.

A positive and beneficial day’s cricket all round. Ollie Robinson the star, and Kent will hope their bowlers can put in a good performance and get some miles in their legs on day two.