Kent bowled out Gloucestershire for 193 in 64.4 overs on the first day of this Division Two Championship match at Bristol to vindicate stand-in skipper Sam Northeast’s decision to ask Gloucestershire to bat first.
But at tea it looked as if Northeast’s decision may have misfired. At that stage, after 32 overs, the home county at 87/2, looked on course for a decent total on a greenish looking pitch which always seemed to offer the seamers some assistance.
However, an impressive spell at the Pavilion End from Matt Coles immediately after the resumption accounted for two of the home side’s in-form batsmen: Ian Cockbain, deputising for the unwell Will Tavare, clean bowled for 23; and Hamish Marshall, caught and bowled off one that stuck in the pitch for a duck.
Calum Haggett soon ended the resistance of Gloucestershire captain Geraint Jones, bowling the former Kent stalwart for 13. At this point Gloucestershire were 129/5 and the advantage was moving in favour of Kent, bottom of the table at the start of play.
That the home side made as many as 193 was largely due to the efforts of the stylish young Australian Peter Handscomb. He looked more comfortable than most of his colleagues scoring nine fours in his 69. He is an elegant player off the front foot but here it was his square cutting that particularly caught the eye. Two successive boundaries early in his innings were particularly impressive. When he was out late in the day, becoming the third victim of Coles, the end was near for Gloucestershire, only David Payne delaying Kent’s buoyant seamers.
Play had not started until 2pm due to heavy early morning downpours. Gloucestershire started without undue alarms with both Chris Dent and Gareth Roderick looking more at ease than some of their colleagues who followed them. But when Dent succumbed to a Haggett away-swinger and was caught at slip for 11 and Roderick was caught at slip from a lifter for veteran Darren Stevens for 28 there warning signs of what was to follow.
Kent will take great heart from the display of their impressive quartet of seamers, all of whom worked hard and extracted the maximum from the conditions which always seemed to give them some help. Coles (3/49) was the stand-out performer for his two wickets after tea which changed the day, and the scalp of Handscomb. But he was any assisted by Stevens (3/50), Haggett (2/53) and Ivan Thomas (2/22).