KENT BATSMAN UNLUCKY TO MISS OUT ON WORLD TWENTY20, SAYS KEY AFTER ‘BEST EVER’ COUNTY KNOCK Stevens shows his class
ROB KEY hailed Darren Stevens’ hundred against Lancashire at Old Trafford last week as “his best innings for the county.”
Stevens hit 101 – his 14th first class hundred for Kent – off only 129 balls, including 10 fours and two sixes and shared an eighth-wicket stand of 92 with Matt Coles (33) to help avoid the followon with the side in danger of suffering their second innings defeat in three championship matches so far this season.
The weather eventually proved the only winner, with the match abandoned in mid-afternoon on the final day after Kent had reached 45-2 having been set 285 to win. Lancashire declared in the morning on their overnight 177-3 following a 90-minute delay due to rain.
A total of 168 overs was lost to rain in the final two days, which dented Lancashire’s hopes of starting the season with three successive wins for the first time in 15 years. Kent took seven points from the game but had one deducted due to a slow over rate
New overseas recruit Makhaya Ntini, who only stepped off the plane from Cape Town on the eve of the game, made a quick impression, claiming two early scalps in an economical return of 3-46 off 22 overs and followed up with 2-31 in the second.
He was overshadowed, though, by fellow South African Ashwell Prince. Dropped on 18 by Joe Denly in the first innings on his way to 115, Prince made an unbeaten 71 not out in the second, just missing out on becoming the first home player to score a hundred in both innings since 1998.
Stevens survived a “life” when he was 53 but skipper Key said: “It was Darren’s best knock for Kent by a long way. The one criticism you would have had of him in the past, is that when we have been really struggling, he hasn’t always got the runs.
“The 92 against Yorkshire and the hundred against Lancashire were tough runs and he is unlucky not to have been picked for the World Twenty20 in the West Indies.
“England’s loss is our gain at the moment and after his one-day innings of 55 off 20-odd balls (against Warwickshire) you can’t tell me they don’t need somebody who can do that.”
Key added: “It’s been a tough start for us, with some of our key bowlers injured and playing on some really sporting wickets.
“If we had caught our catches, we would have probably been in a better position. We are hanging in there but not as many of us are playing as well as we can do. Once that turns, we will be decent.
“The Old Trafford pitch was comfortably the toughest pitch I have had to bat on, not only for sideways movement but up and down as well.
“Not many openers are getting runs around the country and an early start to the season and no heavy roller (between innings) is hopefully not a sign of things to come.”