Match Preview: Kent v Lancashire
Lancashire head to Canterbury following last week's win over Northants
LV= Insurance County Championship, Group Three
Thursday April 22 - Sunday April 25, 2021, 11am
The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, Canterbury
Lancashire are up and running. Following an even opening day against Northamptonshire at Emirates Old Trafford last week, the Red Rose dominated proceedings to win by 206 runs during the fourth evening, with a Steven Croft second-innings unbeaten 103 the standout contribution.
Matthew Parkinson may disagree having bowled Adam Rossington with a peach of a leg-spinner in the first innings, a dismissal which sent social media into a tailspin and was compared to Shane Warne’s famous ball of the century to Mike Gatting at Old Trafford in 1993. It was one of six wickets in the match for the leg-spinner.
Ahead of their third game of the season - their first away game - they sit second in Group Three table on 37 points, a point behind leaders Sussex.
Roses rivals Yorkshire, who actually beat this week’s opponents Kent at Canterbury by 200 runs, are three points worse off than Lancashire in third.
Yorkshire claimed a victory on an attritional pitch in the South East against a side including England Test batsman Zak Crawley, who made one and four.
This was the game when Lancashire were hoping to have Australian seamer Jackson Bird available for the first time as overseas player.
Unfortunately, however, he has been ruled out of his six-game stint with the county due to a neck injury.
Lancashire played two spinners in Tom Hartley and Matthew Parkinson against Northants, but while the pitch conditions at Canterbury are expected to be attritional again - as they were against Yorkshire - it may be that only one spinner is required. Kent did not field a spinner in that fixture, instead relying on part-timers Joe Denly and Jack Leaning.
All-rounder Danny Lamb will be considered after being left out against Northants.
Top order batsman Luke Wells is “nearly there”, according to Glen Chapple in terms of fitness following a winter hamstring tear.
Kent have opened their account with a draw (Northants away) and last week’s home defeat against the White Rose.
Bowled out for 265 in their first innings, they conceded a lead of 114 and were later set a target of 445 late on day three.
Captained by opening batsman Daniel Bell-Drummond, they will field two recently announced Wisden Cricketers of the Year in Zak Crawley and veteran all-rounder Darren Stevens.
Kent coach Matthew Walker believes his squad is the best they have had in “a very, very long time”.
“The challenge is to go on and win something, and they genuinely believe they can do it,” he said in pre-season.
They finished second in last season’s Bob Willis Trophy South Group, winning three of their five matches in an encouraging campaign.
They have overseas duo Miguel Cummins (West Indian fast bowler) and Heino Kuhn (South African batsman) at their disposal, though Kuhn is yet to be selected in their team this season.
Young wicketkeeper-batsman Jordan Cox, who opens the batting and scored a double century last season, has been marked as a future star.
Lancashire and Kent have not met since 2015. They were due for two Division One fixtures last summer before Coronavirus decimated the schedule.
In 2015, the two teams drew at Canterbury at the end of the campaign after the Red Rose had won at Emirates Old Trafford in its early stages.
The Canterbury fixture, a Division Two affair in early September disrupted by weather, saw Kent rack up 570-8 declared in their first innings. Rob Key and Sam Northeast scored centuries against a Lancashire attack led by Glen Chapple.
Captain Steven Croft’s 85 was then the feature of Lancashire’s 259 response. They were forced to follow-on during the latter stages of day three but comfortably saw out the game at 258-4 thanks to a series of valuable contributions from Haseeb Hameed, Alviro Petersen, Ashwell Prince, Croft (72 not out) and Alex Davies (58 not out).
What they said
Red Rose coach Glen Chapple is confident there is much more to come from his players despite describing their start to the season as pleasing.
Lancashire have drawn one and won one of their two games in Group Three so far and sit second in the table, a point behind leaders Sussex.
The Northants win was preceded by a home draw against Sussex, a fixture which Lancashire had much the better of.
“We dominated the first game. We were certainly in with a good chance of winning that if it wasn’t for the snow!” said Chapple.
“Every season you say you want to get off to a good start, and I would class this as a good start. Whilst we are delighted with the effort, the performances have been very good as well.
“But, from what we see in the players and the belief we have in them, we think there is another level to go to potentially.
“If we can get to that, that’s when it will become exciting. But for now, we are pleased.”
Asked what he believed that next level would look like, the former all-rounder went on: “Very simply, more big partnerships and more conversions of twenties to seventies and seventies to hundreds.
“A collective bowling unit has been very evident. But even more balls in the right area will take us to that next level.
“Individually, the lads will be thinking, ‘Brilliant start for the team, but I would have liked a hundred so far’.
“Crofty got one in the last game, Dane got one against Sussex. But there will be a couple of other lads hungry for one.”
It was said before a ball was bowled in this season’s Championship that the plan was to have Jimmy Anderson available for this fixture. After Northants, however, Chapple said: “There’s an element of doubt.
“Thankfully, all the bowlers have come through fit, but we have challenges losing Jackson Bird to injury.”
And, on the challenges posed by Kent, he added: “They’ve been a strong team of late and have improved over recent years, massively.
“They have a good batting line-up, and their bowlers suit their conditions.
“The challenge is to adapt our game to their conditions.
“The (Northants) pitch suited a varied attack with pace in it. Their pitch can be more typically English at times. One of the reasons we rotated Danny Lamb was that he would potentially be a big threat down there.
“Kent are a good team, but they’ve just lost. Hopefully we can exploit that.”
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