Week 3 of the 2022 County Championship sees a clash of the South Coast between Kent and Hampshire at Canterbury. Both sides come into the game after disappointing defeats to Lancashire and Surrey respectively in the last round and will be desperate to avoid back-to-back losses at such an early stage of the season.
Whilst it is too early yet to draw any meaningful conclusions as to where teams will stand come the end of the campaign, patterns are beginning to emerge. For Kent, there are problems in the bowling department having twice conceded first innings totals in excess of 500. For Hampshire, the inconsistency which has plagued them for several years seems to have returned once more. They blew away an under-strength Somerset in their opening game and still possess one of the finest bowling attacks in the country but came unstuck at the Oval after two disappointing performances with the bat.
There is a long way to go though and there have been plenty of positives for both sides. Ben Compton has begun the season in devastating form with three hundreds in as many innings and with Zak Crawley alongside him Kent have an opening partnership many counties would envy. They will also be encouraged by the performance of young spinner Hamidullah Qadri who took career-best figures of 6-129 against the Red Rose.
For Hampshire, Joe Weatherley has already shown a significant improvement from last season with 260 runs from his first three knocks; and Ben Brown looks like a shrewd acquisition with both bat and gloves. Kyle Abbott hasn’t quite hit the heights of previous years thus far but remains one of the most destructive seamers on the circuit.
The last competitive red-ball fixture between these two sides came at the back end of the shortened 2020 season in the South Group of the Bob Willis Trophy. Kent were victorious in a low-scoring game with Crawley scoring an impressive fourth-innings century. He will be keen for another big score to cement his place in the England top order.
It’s been a challenging start to the season for the Kent seamers. Not helped by a placid pitch at Chelmsford in the opening round, they were also forced to toil away for the best part of two days against a strong Lancashire batting unit last week. Through all of this 21-year-old Nathan Gilchrist has persevered and leads the wicket column alongside Qadri at this stage with six at a whiff over 35. Gilchrist has shown promise over his short first-class career so far and given the right conditions he could expose some of the frailties of Hampshire’s top order.
Ian Holland has had quite the cricketing journey. Gaining fame initially as the winner of Australian show Cricket Superstar where he was judged by former Aussie captain Allan Border, he eventually found a home in the English game where he has seamlessly slotted into an all-round role with Hampshire. He missed out with the bat against Surrey but bowled well in their first innings and was unlucky not to have Hashim Amla trapped leg before on nought. If that decision had gone Holland’s way the result could have been a different story. Hhe will hope to have a significant impact here.
Kent have named a 12-man squad for this game with the only difference from last week the absence of Grant Stewart who has just joined Sussex on a one-month loan deal. Joe Denly and Jack Leaning are still unavailable so there won’t be any changes in the batting department. Daniel Bell-Drummond has endured a difficult start and could use a score with others due to return in the coming weeks. George Linde will again have to wait to make his debut as he continues his recovery from a groin problem.
There are no fresh concerns for Hampshire who have named the same XI in both of their opening fixtures so far. They may be tempted to bring in leg-spinner Mason Crane after seeing the success enjoyed by Matt Parkinson here at the weekend, and they have plenty of seam options in the side to accommodate a specialist spinner. Felix Organ and James Fuller would be the most likely candidates to make way.
Kent squad: Ollie Robinson (c & wk), Daniel Bell-Drummond, Jackson Bird, Ben Compton, Jordan Cox, Zak Crawley, Nathan Gilchrist, Matt Milnes, Tawanda Muyeye, Hamidullah Qadri, Matt Quinn, Darren Stevens
Weather and conditions
It is set to be another sunny few days down in Canterbury, although temperatures do not look likely to hit the heights of the Easter weekend. As April pitches go there was a substantial amount of turn on offer in the last game here which the likes of Qadri, Dawson and possibly Crane will look to take advantage of. It should be an excellent contest between bat and ball.
Date: 21st – 24th April 2022
Ground: The St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury
Odds (SkyBet): Kent 5/4, Hampshire 4/7