Report: Warwickshire v Kent, County Championship
Warwickshire’s new-look seam bowling attack continued to impress to overcame a stubborn Kent rearguard action to claim a thrilling LV= Insurance County Championship victory at Edgbaston.
Bears won by an innings and 14 runs when Joey Evison edged Hassan Ali behind to fall heartbreakingly for 99 having taken his side so close to salvaging an unlikely draw
When the visitors, having followed on 295 behind, declined to 99 for seven in their second innings, an ignominious defeat beckoned. But opener Ben Compton (88, 185 balls) and 21-year-old all-rounder Evison (99, 161) added 100 in 25 overs to hoover up much of the afternoon session. Then, after Compton fell in the first over after over tea, Evison and Surrey loanee Conor McKerr added 74 in 27 overs.
Kent were within touching distance of a great escape when, with the light fading fast, Olly Hannon-Dalby returned to have McKerr brilliantly caught by Will Rhodes at fourth slip and then Ali sealed the win with a luscious outswinger to the heroic Evison.
Warwickshire deserved the win, having dominated the match, and their vibrant start to the season hints at a potential title challenge to follow their dismal 2022 campaign. For Kent, the final-day fighting spirit offered some consolation but the thrashing came as a major jolt after their opening-round victory over Northamptonshire.
They are at least likely to be boosted by the return from injury of seamer Grant Stewart when they face Essex at Canterbury next week. Whether Matt Quinn recovers in time from a groin injury sustained in this match remains to be seen.
Kent resumed on the final morning 27 for one, needing to bat out the day, but plummeted to 51 for five in the first 12 overs. Warwickshire’s seamers continued where they left off the previous day when they took 11 wickets in 52 overs.
Compton applied himself assiduously but saw a string of partners perish. Nightwatchman Quinn had his off stump flattened by a Chris Woakes inswinger before four wickets fell to smart work by the slips.
Rob Yates took two superb low catches to remove Daniel Bell-Drummond and Jack Leaning, Rhodes made no mistake to oust Joe Denly and Jordan Cox, having defied for just over an hour for 29, edged to Sam Hain. When skipper Sam Billings decided too late to leave a ball from Hannon-Dalby and deflected it on to his middle stump, it was 99 for seven.
Compton and Evison dug in deep, the former enhancing his remarkable first-class batting average of 58, but were parted in the first over after tea when Compton edged Rushworth and Yates took yet another excellent slip catch, this time fast and high and particularly impressive as he saw the ball very late with wicketkeeper Michael Burgess standing up to the stumps.
That left Kent’s last two wickets with 36 overs to survive, and they came gallantly close to achieving it before the depth and quality of Warwickshire’s refurbished seam attack had the final say.
First Team Coach Mark Robinson said: “We said this morning that we had a lot of hard work to do because this is Division One cricket and teams fight hard and give nothing away. The ball got softer and there was a bit of drizzle around and we know Edgbaston pitches get slower and it became really hard work.
“But we stuck at it, beat the bat a hell of a lot but just couldn’t find the edge. You have to give them credit. Compton was very composed and Evison hurt us for a long time and then we get Compton out and McKerr comes in and bats for 100 balls.
“You start to fear the worst with the light fading but then Rhodesy plucks a great catch off Olly and then we have one of the all-time great wicket celebrations from Hassan. I think that shows how much it means to him and how much he will give to the team and to the Edgbaston crowd.
“It means a lot when you have to keep going as a group and then get the result at the end of a long, tough day. We are only two games into the season but we think we have got a nice little mixture of experience and youth. We set up the game really well on the first day by batting really positively.
“We felt we were good at Taunton without having luck with the weather. There was a danger it was going to thwart us again but we got over the line this time. And welcome back Chris Woakes, in the dirt for the best part of two days trying to bowl teams out! But we have got our bye next week so that will give everybody that extra recovery time and then we have got three big games.”
Warwickshire are scenting LV= Insurance County Championship victory over Kent at Edgbaston despite the loss of four sessions to the weather after excellent seam bowling forced the match forward on the third day.
In reply to the home side’s 453 for four declared (Sam Hain 165 not out from 269 balls, Dan Mousley 94 from 93) Kent were skittled for 158 before closing the third day on 27 for one, following on.
The visitors’ first innings was cut down by a superb collective effort by the Bears’ seam attack. All five seamers took wickets as Hassan Ali led the way with three for 36 and England’s Chris Woakes picked up two wickets in his first championship match for 19 months,
It remains a good batting pitch but Kent have a lot of work to do on the final day to deny Warwickshire what would be a remarkable win after the weather took out sessions four to seven of the match.
After Warwickshire resumed on the third morning on 367 for three, Hain and Mousley extended their partnership to 179 against ultra-defensive fields. With Kent a key bowler down, Matt Quinn off the field nursing the groin injury he collected on the first day, at times all nine outfielders were on the boundary.
Runs still came freely and Mousley collected his fourth six with a breathtaking ramp over the keeper’s head off Conor McKerr before falling six short of a maiden first class century when he hoisted spinner Jack Leaning to long on.
Hain and Michael Burgess added a perky 39 from 31 balls to take Warwickshire to maximum bating points at which point they declared to make the earliest possible start on the pursuit of 20 Kent wickets. Chris Rushworth delivered the first two in a textbook new-ball spell as he trapped Zak Crawley lbw for a sixth-ball duck and then also pinned Ben Compton in front. When Joe Denly nicked an Ali outswinger to wicketkeeper Burgess, Kent were 63 for three and a good-sized Edgbaston crowd were getting some reward for their patience through hours waiting for the grass to dry.
Daniel Bell-Drummond survived a nervous start to unfurl some attractive strokes on his way to 40 (65 balls) but perished just after tea when he sliced a steeply lifting Ali delivery to gully. Ed Barnard then ousted Jack Leaning, caught at point.
At 86 for five, Kent needed serious shoring up and Jordan Cox and Sam Billing put down some roots in a stand of 24 but a lapse in judgment from Cox triggered another clatter. The 22-year-old left one from Olly Hannon-Dalby which hit off-stump to trigger the loss of the last five wickets for 48.
Kent’s implosion earned them the unwelcome prospect of an awkward 12 overs to bat second time round. Crawley’s unhappy day continued when he suffered an arguable lbw decision against Rushworth before, much to Kent’s relief, bad light lopped off the last four overs.
Warwickshire batter Sam Hain said: “It was a tiring day but a good day. We have lost a day to rain but are still in a position to win a game of cricket. It’s a lovely position to be in going into day four needing nine wickets but we know Division One cricket is tough and finding nine wickets won’t be easy.
“The messaging was to go out and bat positively and get to 450- as quickly as possible, It was a bit annoying not to get out there before lunch but Dan Mousley played beautifully from the get-go. He is still finding his way in red ball cricket but while I was sending the members to sleep with my batting he was waking them up. It was a fantastic knock and even on 94 he was going for a six which I think shows a lot about his character that he was putting the team first.
“Then the seamers bowled beautifully. We have a lot of depth in bowling but we also know that it’s a long season, so that will be needed. But all five of the guys bowled really nicely and it is a lovely place to be, at second slip, watching these guys. Woakesy is such a high-class bowler and hasn’t played a lot recently in red ball and to come in first game back and bowl the way he is is certainly cool to watch.”
Warwickshire endured a day of frustration as a second-day washout prevented them pressing home their advantage over Kent in their LV= Insurance County Championship match at Edgbaston.
The home side had dominated the first day, piling up 367 for three after they were put in by visiting skipper Sam Billings. Sam Hain (124 not out) and Dan Mousley (72 not out) were ready to build on their stand of 132 only for persistent Birmingham rain to keep the players off for all of day two.
For the older spectators present it all evoked painful memories of 1898 and the rain-dogged fixtures between these sides at Edgbaston when two of the three days were washed out and only Jesse Hopkins, who bagged his maiden five-for, took anything at all to treasure from the contest.
The Kent side of 2023 were less disenchanted than the home side by the bad weather. The lost time increases their chances of escaping with a draw and also gives fast-bowler Matt Quinn, who suffered a groin injury on the first morning, extra recovery time.
Warwickshire will hope it is not a case of déjà vu from last week’s game against Somerset at Taunton when they had much the better of the match but could not force home victory after the loss of the entire first day to rain.
With a much better weather forecast for the next two days Kent, will still have to work hard to get safe against an attack including Chris Woakes – but the pitch is good for batting.
Warwickshire batter Sam Hain said: “We’ve lost quite a bit of time in the game, but all we’re thinking about is how do we show positive intent to win it. I’m happy with the way we approached yesterday. It’s really pleasing to start the season off with some momentum, especially as a batting unit.”
Rob Yates and Sam Hain punished Kent heavily for a miscalculation with the toss as Warwickshire amassed 367 for three on the opening day of their LV= Insurance County Championship match at Edgbaston.
Yates struck 128 (217 balls) and Hain an unbeaten 124 (235) to enhance their England credentials at the expense of a Kent attack which toiled on a good batting surface after captain Sam Billings chose to field.
That appeared a curious decision on a pitch which looked firm and true and so it proved as Yates and Hain added 166 for the third wicket before Dan Mousley added late impetus with a sparkling unbeaten 72 (78 balls).
Kent’s seam attack, already missing the injured Nathan Gilchrist and Grant Stewart, was further hampered when Matt Quinn limped off just 22 balls into his new-ball spell. The New Zealander returned after lunch but was unable to prevent a bracing reality check for his side after their wining start to the season against Northamptonshire last week.
For Warwickshire, who welcomed England star Chris Woakes back into the team, it was a strong day’s work to follow their impressive domination of Somerset in their rain-affected opening-round draw at Taunton.
Yates in particular enjoyed a satisfying day as he celebrated his return to the top of the order following Dom Sibley’s return to Surrey. Bafflingly dropped to number three in the order last season, he lost form and confidence, but looked back to his best in his specialist position as he unfurled his eighth first-class century. It won’t take too many knocks like this one to re-establish him in the thoughts of England’s selectors.
As the Edgbaston season opened in glorious sunshine but a biting wind, Kent’s bowlers endured a chastening start as Yates and Alex Davies opened aggressively. Davies moved crisply to 23 (34 balls) before playing on to Joey Evison’s third ball.
Conor McKerr, playing the first instalment of a two-match loan from Surrey, soon added the wicket of Will Rhodes, who skied an ugly hoik to mid-on, but that was Kent’s last success for 51 overs. Yates reached his half-century from 69 balls with his tenth four, cut off McKerr, and celebrated with six ladled over long leg off Michael Hogan.
Hain followed to a more circumspect fifty (122 balls) as the third-wicket pair advanced solidly throughout the afternoon. It was a compact, well-managed partnership for the team plan. With Woakes joining a seam-attack also including Olly Hannon-Dalby, Chris Rushworth and Hassan Ali, Warwickshire will fancy their chances of putting Kent under serious pressure if they can amass a total in excess of 479.
Yates completed an accomplished century from 122 balls and it was a surprise when he perished, becoming Joe Denly’s 78thfirst class victim when he lifted the spinner to mid on.
Any Kent hopes of inducing a clatter were quickly smothered by Mousley’s swaggering start. The 21-year-old lifted Evison and Denly for sixes in his first 20 balls and then sent the new ball, propelled by Quinn, far into the seats at long on.
The implacable Hain – his England chance will surely arrive one day – reached his 16th first class century from 198 balls, Mousley motored to 50 in 55 and the fourth-wicket pair added an unbroken 132 up to the close to complete an excellent day for Warwickshire and leave Kent reflecting upon an early candidate for toss clanger of the season.
Warwickshire batter Rob Yates said: “It was a good day. We scored at a decent rate as a team and then Dan Mousley came in and played beautifully in the last session. We are set up really nicely to build on that tomorrow morning.
“It was nice for me to get some runs on the board and the tempo I created was quite enjoyable and hopefully was alright to watch. I just tried to let things come naturally with as little thought as possible.
“I’ve done a lot of work over the winter, technically and also mentally. You know that in cricket you are going to be challenged so it is a case of trusting yourself to some out the other side when things don’t go right for you.
“It helps to have really good players to bat with and Sam Hain is Mr Consistent at the moment. It is great to watch and we can’t really ask for more from him.
“Having been put in, we are in a great position. We were going to bowl if we had won the toss and with Woakesy in the side and the rest of our bowling attack we are quite hungry to get stuck in with the ball.”
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