Wickets tumble at Canterbury
Wickets tumble at Canterbury

Twenty-two wickets fell in an action-packed second day, seven of them to Somerset seamer Lewis Gregory and 10 overall to leg-before appeals as the Specsavers County Championship leaders made up for their first day washout against Kent.

Despite improved conditions at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, Kent went in at stumps on 24 for two after 12 overs of their second innings – still trailing the visitors by six runs going into the third day of the match.

Facing a 30-run deficit when batting for a second time, Kent lost Zak Crawley lbw to a shooting Gregory off-cutter then Joe Denly’s whose off stump was feathered half-way up by a Jamie Overton leg-cutter.

Somerset, who started their first innings of the match by 2.40pm, made a disastrous start in response to Kent’s 139 all out and having dismissed the hosts inside 41 overs.

Azhar Ali played across a straight one from Darren Stevens to be given leg before and James Hildreth prodded at a Harry Podmore away-swinger and was caught behind.

Tom Abell pushed inside a Podmore leg-cutter then Podmore seamed another down the slope to have George Bartlett caught at the wicket via an inside edge.

Eight more batsmen departed during the day’s extended final session of 38 overs as Matt Milnes broke a fifth-wicket stand worth 62 by enticing Steve Davies to toe-end a short one to second slip.

Tom Banton notched the first 50 of the game from 92 balls and with nine fours but, with the scores level, Banton’s 119-ball stay for 63 ended when he pulled a short one from Grant Stewart to square leg.

Stewart trimmed the off stump of Craig Overton with a sublime away-swinger, Gregory worked across a straight one from Milnes for another lbw then Stewart struck again in fortuitous fashion when Jamie Overton, in attempting to kick the ball from the crease, only succeeded in volleying it onto his own leg stump.

Two balls later, Milnes snared Jack Leech leg before to limit Somerset’s lead to 30 as Milnes, Stewart and Podmore each finished with three wickets apiece.

Earlier, Somerset seamer Gregory made up for the rain-ruined opening day by bagging career-best figures of six for 32.

Batting first after an uncontested toss, the hosts were seven down by lunch leaving 1,500 Kentish school children – welcomed to the ground for free under the Countrystyle Recycling Schools Day Out scheme – with precious little to cheer.

Sean Dickson fell leg before when playing outside the line to a shooting Jack Brooks off-cutter, then in the next over Denly, on his season’s home debut, went lbw when playing around a full one from Craig Overton.

Daniel Bell-Drummond departed in near identical fashion, leg before to Brooks, when jabbing down late to another full delivery.

After five-overs from the Nackington Road End, Overton limped off the field to be replaced by brother Jamie, who struck with his fifth ball, a leg-cutter that squared up Heino Kuhn for a catch behind the stumps.

Brooks rested after a fine opening burst of 5-2-3-2 to be replaced at the Pavilion End by Gregory who was celebrating after only three deliveries by having Crawley caught off a top-edged hook.

Craig Overton returned after treatment and was re-introduced in a bid to break a sixth-wicket stand between Alex Blake and Ollie Robinson that added 56 inside 12 overs.

The ploy backfired initially when, after only five deliveries Overton hobbled off again with a groin injury, forcing Gregory to complete the over, but the short break in play proved crucial as Blake wafted outside off stump to be caught at second slip after a clear lapse in concentration.

In Gregory’s next over Stevens missed an off-cutter to depart lbw without scoring then, three balls later, Grant Stewart was downed on nought by Azhar at second slip as Kent limped into lunch on 121 for seven.

Gregory returned after the interval to polish the innings off. The right-armer ran three deliveries down the slope to trap top-scorer Robinson lbw for 37, then peg back the middle stump of both Grant Stewart and last man Milnes.

Lewis Gregory, who returned from a fortnight off with an injured intercostal muscle to take career-best figures of six for 32, said: “It was fast-forward cricket today. We just tried to hit the pitch hard, hit the seam and there was enough happening for wickets to tumble.

“With the weather that’s been around over the last few days the pitch was slightly juicy and helping the bowlers and, if I’m honest, there was a little bit of ordinary batting in there as well.

“It was definitely a day for the bowlers, with some movement off the surface we tried to attack the stumps a little more than usual, they did too, hence the 10 lbws today.

“The game’s moved forward for sure but Tom Banton keeps impressing with the bat for us. He’s a fantastic talent and it was great to see the way he dug in and fought throughout his innings. It was nice for me to spend a little time out there in the middle with him.”

Grant Stewart, who bagged three wickets on his season’s debut for Kent, said: “It was good to be back out there but with the poor weather yesterday it was always likely to be a tricky day for the batters – and so it proved.

“With 30 runs the difference in the first innings it’s still likely to be a competitive game, so it’ll be interesting to see how it unfolds over the next couple of days.

“It’s a new ball wicket, the new cherry moved about and made it tough for both teams. But once you got through that, there were little partnerships from 30 overs onwards.

“Somerset are setting the benchmark so far this year and their bowling has been good. If we can get a decent total on the board from here, then a little scoreboard pressure might just help us knock them over for a second time.”