County cricket returns to Canterbury this week as Kent take on Lancashire in the second round of the 2022 County Championship.
The home side got underway with a high-scoring draw away against Essex last week, whilst for Lancashire this is the first game of a season many are tipping to be a very successful one. With a promising forecast scheduled over the Easter weekend, both sides will be keen to get their first victory of the new campaign under their belts.
The away side come into this game as one of only two sides who didn’t play in the opening week but many have backed the Red Rose for Championship success in 2022. Narrowly pipped to last year’s title by Warwickshire, a similar squad will be confident of going one better this time around, especially given the potential availability of Jimmy Anderson for the first few weeks of the season. Saqib Mahmood also impressed for England over the winter and there a number of uncapped domestic players in their ranks looking to stake international claims.
Kent will have other ideas though and should feel reasonably confident after last week’s performance at Chelmsford, despite the relatively unresponsive nature of that pitch. Jackson Bird and Nathan Gilchrist showed perseverance with the ball while Ben Compton, making his debut for the county, scored an impressive hundred against a strong Essex attack. They will need an improvement with the new-ball however if they are to secure a first red-ball win against Lancashire since 2013.
There will be some degree of familiarity between the side sides having been drawn together in the group stage of last year’s County Championship. Uncapped spinner Matt Parkinson took nine wickets in an innings victory for Lancashire at Canterbury and it will be interesting to see whether he can have a similar impact here after another winter on the bench for England.
The two sides also contested a somewhat rain-affected pre-season friendly at the end of March in which Daniel Bell-Drummond and Darren Stevens hit fluent half-centuries for the hosts.
Lancashire will be the bookies’ choice but Kent do have the advantage of competitive match practice.
Already without Zak Crawley and Jack Leaning, Kent’s top-order became further depleted when Joe Denly pulled up with a hamstring injury on day one at Chelmsford. Enter Jordan Cox, who came in at number four to strike a superb century to further suck the life out of the Essex bowlers. At just 21 years of age and 21 First-Class games, Cox already possesses an average over 35 and is quickly establishing himself as an integral part of the Kent batting unit.
Heading into the new season Lancashire will once again be marshalled by the highly experienced Dane Vilas as they look for their first red-ball trophy since 2011. The South African gloveman is about to begin his 6th season with the Red Rose (4th as captain) and, as well as leading the side, will be tasked with providing support to a talented but relatively inexperienced batting line-up. His runs and leadership will be vital to any success they enjoy this season.
Team News (probable)
Mitigating the loss of Denly to some extent will be the return of Crawley, who is likely to be included after sitting out last week’s curtain-raiser. Leaning is unfortunately expected to miss out again as he continues his recovery from a hamstring problem but overseas signing George Linde could be in line to make his first appearance for Kent after arriving from South Africa. The left-arm spinner, who can also offer useful lower order runs, has 3 Test caps and will be hoping a productive stint with the club could put him in the national selectors’ thoughts for the series against England later in the summer.
Despite not featuring for England in the Caribbean, the England management have decided not to make Anderson available for Lancashire’s first game of the season, possibly in a bid to manage his fitness over a long summer of cricket. Mahmood will therefore be the key man in the seam department with the likes of Luke Wood and Tom Bailey in support. Pakistan quick Hasan Ali is available to make his debut having signed at the beginning of March as the club’s overseas player for 2022. It won’t happen in this game but an attack featuring Anderson, Mahmood and Ali is a mouthwatering prospect.
Weather and conditions
Sunshine and clear skies are expected to dominate over the Bank Holiday weekend which should make for an excellent few days of cricket. Last week saw runs aplenty across the country and with little swing likely, the bowlers here will be looking to the surface for some assistance.
Date: 14th – 17th April 2022
Ground: The St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury
Odds (SkyBet): Kent 5/4, Lancashire 4/7