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Wickets tumble as Kent take control
Wickets tumble as Kent take control

Hampshire were skittled for 57 in 87 minutes by Kent to douse their hopes of winning the LV= Insurance County Championship title for the first time since 1973.

Matt Quinn claimed six for 23 to rout Hampshire for the lowest first-class score at the Ageas Bowl and their worst total since 1984 – where they were bowled out for 56 against Kent at Canterbury in a set-up match.

Hampshire’s fast bowling trident of Mohammad Abbas, Kyle Abbott and Keith Barker had all combined to see off Kent for 165 on a green pitch which offered some, but not excessive, movement – but still conceded a 108-run first-innings deficit.

Kent reached 20 for three at close in their second innings as Hampshire, who started the round eight points adrift of leaders Surrey, saw their dream of a third pennant fade, despite gaining a point on Surrey during the day.

James Vince had chosen to stick Kent in and had them 32 for five before Ben Compton had ground 63 off 161 balls, to provide a backbone in tricky circumstances.

What followed was a cricketing massacre.

Felix Organ was caught at second slip in the fifth over, Joe Weatherley unconvincingly chopped onto his own stumps and Nick Gubbins followed one that angled across him behind.

Quinn had picked up Weatherley from the Rod Bransgrove Pavilion End but swapped to the Hilton End to pilfer Vince and top scorer with 19, Ian Holland, in the same over – the former caught off the inside edge and the latter pushing to first slip.

Ben Brown was bowled by a Nathan Gilchrist beauty, before the last four wickets fell for just three runs – Barker chipping to mid-off, Aneurin Donald playing on, Abbott caught at second slip and Abbas castled.

It was the joint 45th lowest total in Hampshire’s history, as they only managed to see out 101 deliveries.

To go with Quinn’s six-for, Gilchrist and Harry Podmore both posted two-fors.

Earlier, a Kent side shorn of Sam Billings, Jordan Cox, Matt Milnes, Grant Stewart, Zak Crawley and Joe Denly for all manner of injury, international and paternity reasons, battled to what appeared a below-par 165.

Tawanda Muyeye lasted only five balls into the match when he was leg before to Barker and it took Abbas took just as long to take a wicket at the other end as Daniel Bell-Drummond edged behind to Aneurin Donald – who continued to take the gloves despite Brown’s return to the XI.

Jack Leaning stemmed the wicket-taking with a turgid eight off 57 balls but was bowled by Abbott attempting to work the ball into the leg side.

It began a spell of aggressive bowling by the South African fast bowler – backed up by Holland bowling six straight maidens at the other end – which saw Ollie Robinson play on and Harry Finch lbw in consecutive balls.

Amongst the tumble was the unflinching Compton, who never knowingly played at a ball not hitting at his stumps in his 161-ball vigil. He had been in single figures for 36 balls and happily stuck on 18 for 36 dot balls as he got the ball soft.

Compton had started the season with three straight hundreds but had endured a demanding recent spell in which he had failed to reach double figures in his last six Championship innings.

He reached his first half-century since early June in 141 balls during strong partnerships of 68 and 45 with Royal London Cup final hero Joey Evison and Harry Podmore.

Hampshire’s attack chipped away and broke through at regular intervals thereafter with Abbott returning four for 46, Barker passing 50 wickets for the season with three for 30 and Abbas three for 29.

In Kent’s second innings, Compton was caught at first slip and night watcher Conor McKerr caught behind, both to Abbas, and second night watcher Podmore was bowled by Holland. It meant 23 wickets had fallen on a dizzying day.

Hampshire director of cricket Giles White: “It all happened very quickly and has put us in a very tough position in this game. But we are by no means out of this game, there is a lot of belief in this group. We can come back in the morning, add a couple of wickets on that score and we are back in the game. As we have seen this summer his group has the ability to bounce back.

“It has been a tough day and that session has rocked us. 

“I think they batted well. Credit to Ben Compton, he showed really good concentration and batted well. He was difficult to get out. They had a little bit of luck after lunch, got a score but we finished them off well. In a normal course of event we would have been really happy, but then we have that session with the bat.

“The pitch has got a little bit in it. It is the second time around for this wicket. We have had a lot of cricket here over the course of the summer. It has a little bit in it but you can certainly bat on it when the ball gets a little bit older.

“We need to take it session by session from here. The bowlers need to do what they have done all season and with the bat it will be about application, getting through the new ball and having partnerships to get us over the line.”

Kent fast bowler Matt Quinn: “That has been an eventful day on a very bowler-friendly wicket. We are in a great position despite losing a few wickets at the end of the day – even if they were sacrificial lambs.

“It was a hell of a partnership between Compton and Evison. It just shows how well Compton batted today on that surface. He has been phenomenal all year and we really needed him to stand up today. The way he batted showed how good he is.

“It was a wicket where if you put the ball in the right area then it does plenty. There was constant nip. On some wickets you get the odd ball that nips but in this game it seemed to have five balls out of six which moved.

“I like to think I’ve bowled well all year and finally I have been rewarded. To get some wickets is a big relief.

“Bowling a side out for 57 is special and all the bowlers will be rejoicing after a tough season. We have been dreaming all year of knocking over a team like this all year.

“If we can get a 200 run lead then it’ll be a really good effort.”