Lancashire endured another difficult day in the field on day two of their LV= County Championship Division Two match at Canterbury as Kent’s batsmen once again took advantage of a docile pitch and an unthreatening bowling display.
The home side declared on 570-8, leaving Lancashire openers Karl Brown and Haseeb Hameed to safely negotiate ten overs before bad light and rain brought play to a close with seven overs remaining and the score on 25 without loss.
Sam Northeast was the main thorn in the Red Rose county’s side as he reached his first Championship hundred of the season. Darren Stevens added to Lancashire’s woes with a belligerent 92, his highest score of the campaign so far. He and Northeast put on 183 for the sixth wicket.
Northeast went from 85 to 103 with four consecutive boundaries, demonstrating the full extent of his shot-making repertoire against the left-arm spin of Simon Kerrigan. The first was a crisp cover-drive for four as Northeast danced down the wicket to meet the ball. A slog-sweep to the midwicket boundary followed, and then a late cut that raced away behind square before the final ball of the 50th over of the day was deposited over mid-off for six to bring up Northeast’s eleventh century of his first-class career.
The 25 year-old was given a life on 17 when Toby Lester dropped a dolly of a chance at point off Jordan Clark, but thereafter, and barring some playing and missing outside off-stump, Northeast was largely untroubled. Lancashire’s catching has cost them dearly in this match, with Northeast the second Kent batsmen after Rob Key to be dropped early before going on to reach three figures.
Northeast, whose thousandth Championship run of the season came when he reached 77, eventually departed for 139 off 221 balls after he ran past a Kerrigan delivery in the fourth over after tea and was stumped by Alex Davies. It was a wicket that marked the Lancashire wicketkeeper’s 50th dismissal of the Championship season.
Immediately prior to the interval, Stevens had looked set to become the third centurion of the match, but he holed out to Hameed in the deep as he tried to smash a Kerrigan long-hop over midwicket for a second maximum in as many balls. His 115-ball innings was dominated by a series of crunching drives down the ground, as he took on anything on or full of a length, and included the personal landmark of thirteen thousand first-class runs for the veteran of 248 matches.
Lancashire enjoyed a reasonable start to the day when night watchman James Tredwell was caught by Hameed in the gully off the bowling of Jordan Clark in the tenth over of the morning, having added just eight to his overnight score of three. Clark was the pick of an otherwise ill disciplined Lancashire attack, maintaining a consistent off-stump line that made it difficult for Kent’s batsmen to go after him as they did his colleagues who offered too many loose deliveries.
Ben Harmison was the other wicket of the morning session, guiding a leg-stump delivery from Tom Bailey into the hands of Lester at mid-wicket. After a slow-start, Harmison had played some excellent shots for his 19 and looked devastated to give his wicket away in such a soft manner and in such favourable batting conditions.
After Northeast and Stevens’ partnership dominated the afternoon session, Callum Haggett and Ryan Davies continued Kent’s dominance after tea, using their feet effectively against the spin of Kerrigan and Lancashire captain Steven Croft. Haggett was particularly impressive for his unbeaten 36 that included two sixes, one of which cannoned into the scoreboard above the Les Ames stand and dispatched Croft over mid-off.
Davies was dismissed for 19, thanks to a remarkable catch by Lester in the deep off Croft. The fielder tossed the ball inside the rope as he left the field, then returned to finish the job. The declaration came soon after.
Save an optimistic LBW shout against Hameed from Matt Hunn, the Lancashire openers made serene progress through to the close and will resume tomorrow with their side 545 runs in arrears. Batting bonus points are likely to be the visitors initial focus, as Lancashire look to edge closer to a guaranteed promotion.