Olly Stone took a career best 5-44 as Northants recorded a crushing eight wicket victory inside six sessions of play against Kent at Wantage Road, to secure their first County Championship win on home soil since August 2013.
Despite a first day washout, Northants were celebrating victory by 4:50pm on the third day as they needed only nine overs to chase down a target of 46 after Stone’s second career five-wicket haul helped dismiss Kent for 151 in their second innings, Joe Denly top scoring with 39.
After four successive Championship draws at Wantage Road this season, the fifth game was over inside two days of action, on a pitch that was green and offering some assistance to the bowlers, but not to the extent that saw 15 wickets fall on the third day after 17 on the second.
Northamptonshire captain Alex Wakely admitted the hosts had asked for a slightly more bowler-friendly pitch, but said it was a good cricket wicket which allowed his side to pick up a first home win of the season.
“We’ve played some very good cricket but we haven’t managed to force a result,” he said. “We asked for a sporting pitch and we got a good cricket wicket in my opinion. We managed to play good cricket and got the result we needed.
“It was a phenomenal spell [by Stone]. We were saying in the slips we were as far back as we’ve been for anyone, that was quick. For someone at 21 years old he’s a pretty exciting talent and I’m very pleased for him as he was just struggling for a bit of confidence lately but that was superb, it was a hostile spell.
“It’s a good place at the moment, there’s a good buzz around the ground. I think everything’s just about right at the club from top to bottom so it makes it more enjoyable and easier to play.”
Resuming on 193-7, Richard Levi hit 50 as the hosts were bowled out for 246 in the first hour of the morning. Steven Crook helped Levi add 38 for the eighth wicket but fell LBW to Stevens for 22, and although Rory Kleinveldt edged the next ball to slip, Levi brought up his 50 with a six before being bowled by Mitchell Claydon two balls later.
With a deficit of 106, Kent were soon in trouble at 25-2 as Kleinveldt trapped Daniel Bell-Drummond LBW for 10, and Rob Key (1) departed in the same manor off Muhammed Azharullah four balls later.
Sam Northeast (4) shouldered arms to be bowled by Kleinveldt after lunch, but Denly and Darren Stevens offered brief resistance with a partnership of 42, before the latter became Stone’s first victim, edging to slip for 28, sparking a second Kent collapse.
Having lost their last eight wickets for 47 in the first innings, second time round the final seven would add just 51 as Stone ran through the middle order with five wickets in six overs.
The 21-year-old trapped Adam Ball (7) LBW in his next over and two overs later, Denly top edged a hook to be caught at fine-leg, the first of wickets in three consecutive overs, as Tredwell was LBW for 7 and Matt Coles (2) edged to slip.
Muhammed Azharullah and Kleinveldt, who had both taken five in Kent’s first innings returned to wrap up the innings with the wickets of Ryan Davies and Ivan Thomas respectively.
With Northants needing just 46 for victory, Rob Newton raced to 27 as he looked to finish things quickly but top edged a catch to wicketkeeper Davies, Ben Duckett (1) following two balls later, guiding Stevens into the slips.
Those wickets only delayed the inevitable however as captain Alex Wakely guided his side to their second victory of the season alongside Rob Keogh.
Kent assistant coach Matt Walker admitted his side had been outplayed and said they need to improve their batting, having been dismissed twice in under 40 overs.
“We never really got ourselves going in this game. Northamptonshire outplayed us in every format, and in the end we probably got what we deserved.
“The batting hasn’t been good enough, and we haven’t batted for long enough. You can’t expect to bat for 70 overs in a match, regardless of the conditions, you don’t give yourself a chance of winning games of cricket. We need people to step up and score runs.”