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Surrey pile on the runs at Canterbury
Surrey pile on the runs at Canterbury

Dom Sibley hit an unbeaten 87 as Surrey dominated Kent on day two of their Vitality County Championship derby at Canterbury, reaching 185 for one at stumps in reply to Kent’s 244 all out.

Cameron Steel and Tom Lawes both took three wickets apiece as Surrey limited Kent to 244 and although night-watcher George Garrett outshone his batting partners with a career-best 48, any hopes that might look competitive vanished as Sibley and Rory Burns put on 147 for the opening wicket.

Garrett eventually got Burns for 69, but Sibley and Dan Lawrence batted through to stumps, at which point Surrey were just 59 behind.

It was so cold at the Spitfire Ground that even the Nackington Road Grumblers abandoned their usual seats and took refuge in the more sheltered Cowdrey Stand. Garrett’s unexpected resistance aside, there was plenty for them to grumble about.

Kent were 111 for three overnight and Kemar Roach had Jack Leaning plumb lbw to the third delivery of the morning, removing him for 30.

Garrett pulled Lawes for successive fours as he overtook his previous highest first-class score of 24, but the remaining specialist batters all squandered promising starts.

Joe Denly was bowled for 32 when he chased a wide one from Steel and played on and Harry Finch hit two impressive boundaries as he steered Kent to 192 for five at lunch but he was caught for nine in the slips by Sibley off Jordan Clark soon after the resumption.

Garrett fell two short of his half-century when he edged Steel behind and Steel then had Matt Parkinson stumped by Ben Foakes for a duck. Kent’s last recognised batter went when Foakes then sprang to his right to catch Joey Evison off Lawes for 30.

Jas Singh also made his highest first-class score, but when he was lbw to Lawes for 15 Kent were still six short of a batting point.

Surrey’s response rapidly began to look ominous. Kent created few chances and when Sibley nicked Arafat Bhuiyan he was put down by Finch.

Burns flicked Matt Parkinson for a single to reach 50 and compared to last season, when he took 578 minutes to make 140 at this venue, Sibley was batting like Virat Kohli, reaching his half-century from 86 balls with a single off Arafat.

Burns fell to Garrett when Zak Crawley took a smart slip catch, but it was an isolated moment of hope for the home fans during a protracted evening session.

Surrey’s Cameron Steel said: “It’s been awesome to watch our openers and it’s great to see Burnsie back in the runs. Sibley’s just carrying on from last year really so it’s lovely to just have a good base and hopefully Sibley and Loz (Dan Lawrence) can go big tomorrow.

“I was really pleased with the way I bowled today, especially coming back to the Dukes ball. They were actually pretty tough conditions to bowl in today so I’m especially pleased to get a bit of turn out of a very placid pitch and to get three for.

“The one that got Denly was actually a leggie, he just chopped it on. The slope gave me a bit of assistance there. It was nice to get his wicket because that was quite a big one for us.”

(Did he think he’d have 17 wickets by April?)

“I think a few people might have lost a bit of money on that one. I certainly wasn’t expecting that but I was expecting to do bigger things with my bowling this year and it’s come to fruition a bit. I’m very pleased with how it’s going. It’s a lot of hard work paying off and long may it continue.”

(Is the plan to bat once?) “We’d like to think so. If we can get a big lead and hopefully get a day and a half to bowl them out it’d be nice to get a first win on the board.”

Kent’s George Garrett said: “It was good to get out there and just score some runs. Obviously last night as night-watchman it’s never easy. Deebs unfortunately got out and I had to do the had work then but I came this morning with a pretty clear head and backed my defence. I know I can bat, I worked really hard on it over the winter with Walks and (Michael) Cohen in the indoor school and in Australia.

“I know I can bat and I felt good in the nets so I just tried to take each ball as it comes. It turned out to be a decent effort. Funnily enough I was told by Lorne the scorer that I’m down in the handbook as a right-hander so that’s not great sign in terms of a reflection on my batting! It was nice to prove to everyone today that I’m a left-hander.

“I thought I wouldn’t bat as long as I did so I didn’t do my fantasy football team. I batted till after the deadline closed, so that was a bit frustrating! It’s not that I didn’t back myself but I average 15 in first class cricket, so going off that, hopefully I’ll have boosted it today.

“It’s a shame it wasn’t 50. I was surprised Foakes caught me but he showed how good he is. Normally that’s tickled down the leg side for four.”