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Match Preview: Kent v Lancashire

Match Preview: Kent v Lancashire

Lancashire head into 2022 amongst the favourites to claim the title they oh so nearly won at the end of last September.

Kent v Lancashire
LV= Insurance County Championship, Division One
The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, Canterbury
Thursday April 14 - Sunday April 17, 2022, 11am

Warwickshire emerged victorious, but optimism is high at Emirates Old Trafford that a second-placed finish can be bettered.

Our opening fixture, a week later than the majority of counties, comes in the South East against a Kent side who the Red Rose beat at Canterbury last April and then drew with at Emirates Old Trafford.

Kent drew their opening game against Essex at Chelmsford last week, a high-scoring draw which saw both sides post 500 plus in their first innings and five centuries scored.

Pakistan fast bowler Hassan Ali is set to debut for Lancashire having signed for the opening six Championship games of the summer.

Opponents:

Kent finished top of the Division Three last summer in the Conference system.

Having failed to win any of their opening 10 games, in the same conference as Lancashire, they advanced into the season-ending third tier and won all four games to salvage pride to add to their Vitality Blast title success.

Last week’s draw against Essex saw them reply to Essex’s 514 all out with 581-9 declared, including a pair of 129s for opener Ben Compton and highly-rated youngster Jordan Cox.

Australian seamer Jackson Bird, who Lancashire signed at the start of last season before injury forced a change of plan, has signed on at Canterbury for a similar spell to Hassan Ali.

Club captain Sam Billings is away at the IPL, with wicketkeeper batter Ollie Robinson deputising. England Test opener Zak Crawley should play his first match of the summer.

Opposing player to watch:

Tawanda Muyeye is a Zimbabwe-born 21-year-old batter who was named Wisden Schools Cricketer of the Year for 2020, an honour previously bestowed on Jos Buttler.

An aggressive player in Kent’s top order, plus a handy off-spinner, he debuted last summer - his first as a contracted professional - and has played five first-class games to date.

Has scored 200 runs, including a best of 89. He also scored 58 against Essex last week, batting at number three.

A name we will likely hear plenty more of in years to come.

Previous meeting:

A clash in the latter stages of last season’s initial group stage of the Championship, the two sides drew a rainy affair at Emirates Old Trafford at the start of July.

The game will forever be remembered as the one in which Jimmy Anderson claimed his 1,000th first-class career wicket amidst a devastating first-innings spell of 7-19 - a career best.

Kent were rolled for just 74 when play finally got underway on day two.

Lancashire responded with 259-9, including Luke Wood’s unbeaten 63, before declaring at the start of day four.

Unfortunately, Kent held on for the draw, with Jack Leaning’s stubborn 53 not out off 199 balls the linchpin knock in 149-8. Tom Hartley claimed four wickets.

What they said:

Captain Dane Vilas has revealed the hurt of last season’s near miss in the Championship is a motivating factor for success in 2022.

Following their heart-stopping one-wicket win over Hampshire at Liverpool, Lancashire led the title race heading into the final day of last season’s Championship.

Unfortunately, though, Warwickshire completed victory over Somerset at Edgbaston to seal success.

“To get to a point where we were in a winning position and then to lose it on the last day was bitterly disappointing,” said Vilas, who watched the action unfold from Edgbaston on the live stream with the rest of Lancashire’s squad.

“Watching it was almost like a slow death. It was horrible seeing it slip away when it was so close.

“We are going to use that as motivation because we don’t want to be in that position again.

“One of our goals is that we want to be competing in every competition we play.

“We have a big emphasis on the County Championship because it is the hardest one to win, and we want to get to that ultimate prize come the end of the season.”

Lancashire will hope it is a case of deja vu having beaten Kent at Canterbury last April, by an innings and five runs.

Luke Wood and Danny Lamb scored first-innings centuries before Matt Parkinson claimed nine wickets in the match, including seven in the second innings.

Vilas added: “That was the start of things for us last season. It was early on, and we got a good win. Hopefully we can go and do the same again.

“But they’re a good outfit. They have played well this last week.

“All games in Division One are really tough. We know we have to play well. But all the guys are excited to get out there and play.”

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