Day Four: Kent won by eight wickets
Kent were kept waiting but ultimately completed a commanding eight-wicket win over Warwickshire deep in the final session of their Specsavers County Championship Division One clash at Edgbaston.
The home side, having followed on 158 behind, delivered some stern last-day resistance through an eighth-wicket stand of 144 in 45 overs between Tim Ambrose (107, 195 balls, 16 fours) and Henry Brookes (a career-best 84, 155 balls, 14 fours).
But after they were separated, just before tea, the last three wickets fell in 22 balls to leave Kent a victory target of 123 in 31 overs. Harry Podmore finished with five for 62 to harvest match-figures of eight for 123, a highly impressive return on a very good batting pitch.
Kent eased to 124 for two to complete their first victory in Division One of the championship since 2010. Their strong performance was the perfect response to the disappointment of defeat to Somerset in their opening game at Taunton.
For Warwickshire, it was a chastening start to the season. With a squad in transition, and further hit by injuries which ruled out Olly Stone, Chris Woakes, Ian Bell, Liam Norwell and Aaron Thomason, they faced an immediate examination of their squad depth and struggled to cope.
The home side resumed on the final morning on 79 for four, still needing another 79 to avoid an innings defeat, and soon lost Sam Hain (38, 73 balls, five fours) who edged a superb ball from Podmore to wicketkeeper Ollie Robinson.
After Tom Milnes fell lbw to Darren Stevens and Podmore produced another fine delivery to pin Craig Miles in front, Warwickshire were seven down, still 37 behind and Kent were scenting victory by an innings. But Ambrose and Brookes batted with composure and patience against an attack which began to look understandably tired.
Brookes passed his previous career-best of 70 before Ambrose reached his eighteenth first-class century, from 191 balls with his 15th four. The pair were just taking their side within touching distance of safety when, four overs before tea, Kent finally made the vital breakthrough. Milnes trapped Ambrose lbw with an in-ducker that kept a little low after which Podmore immediately followed up by removing Jeetan Patel lbw and Milnes won another lbw decision, against Brookes.
Left with a victory target of 123 in 30 overs, Kent lost Sean Dickson, lbw to Brookes, in the second over, but first-innings century maker Zak Crawley (45, 40 balls) and Matt Renshaw (48 not out, 50 balls) added 80 in 67 balls to make light work of the small target.
Kent took total control of the battle of the newly-promoted sides at Edgbaston where Warwickshire face a massive last-day rearguard action to avoid defeat in their Specsavers County Championship Division One match.
After following on 158 behind, the home side closed the third day on 79 for four in their second innings – still 79 behind.
Replying to Kent’s 504 for nine, Warwickshire had been advancing solidly towards the follow on figure of 355 when they were 242 for four early in the afternoon, but were then undone by a clatter of five wickets for 32 runs in 11 overs and folded to 346 all out.
Harry Podmore’s burst of three wickets in 11 balls was the catalyst for the collapse. Podmore finished with three for 61 while Matt Milnes took three for 50 and Darren Stevens three for 56, an excellent effort by the seamers on a pitch still very good for batting.
Podmore and Stevens then swiftly removed Warwickshire’s openers second time round and only some heroic final-day resistance from the Bears can deny Kent their first Championship Division One win since 2010.
After Warwickshire resumed on the third day on 136 for three, Kent were held up by Dominic Sibley’s fifth century in successive first-class matches. Sibley concentrated hard for 132 (315 balls, 15 fours) but none of his team-mates reached 50 in very favourable batting conditions.
Sibley added 70 with Adam Hose (31, 93 balls) and 87 with Tim Ambrose (44, 77 balls) but Ambrose’s departure, lbw to Stevens, just after lunch, heralded the clatter.
Podmore swiftly added the scalps of Tom Milnes, caught at second slip and then Craig Miles and Sibley lbw. When Henry Brookes edged Mitchell Claydon to second slip it was 273 for nine and last pair Jeetan Patel and Ryan Sidebottom needed to find 82 to avoid that follow on.
They had a real go at it, adding 73 before, just nine runs short of sentencing the match to a draw, Patel (40, 45 balls, four fours, two sixes) skied Stevens to mid-off in the last over before tea.
Kent took just two balls to damage Warwickshire’s second innings when Podmore trapped Will Rhodes lbw. The visitors’ soaring confidence was then illustrated by two brilliant catches in the cordon, by Zak Crawley to remove Sibley off Stevens and by Adam Riley when Liam Banks drove at Podmore.
That cordon collected again when Matt Renshaw pouched Hose off Claydon to leave the Bears staring well and truly down the barrel. Kent would be devastated, from this position, not to end the nine-year gap since their last top-flight win – a four-wicket victory at Yorkshire at Headingley in September 2010 achieved under coach Paul Farbrace, now sport director at Edgbaston.
Kent continue to prosper at Edgbaston as Ollie Robinson became their second home-grown youngster in successive days to score a century in their Specsavers County Championship Division One match against Warwickshire.
After Bromley-born 21-year-old Zak Crawley scored a fluent 108 on the first day, Ollie Robinson, a 20-year-old son of Sidcup, followed up on the second with his maiden first-class ton.
In only his eighth first-class innings, Robinson’s composed 143 (228 balls, 22 fours) eclipsed the 95 runs he had collected in the previous seven and lifted his side to an imposing 504 for nine declared.
It was a very impressive response from Kent to the disappointment of defeat plucked from the jaws of victory in their opening game at Somerset last week. They then made strong progress towards turning that hefty total into a victory when, on an excellent batting track, they reduced Warwickshire to 84 for three.
The home side closed the second day on 136 for three, still 229 short of the follow on figure, and have plenty of batting to do if they are to avoid defeat in their first game back in the top division.
After Kent resumed on the second day on 367 for five, they lost Darren Stevens (23, 41 balls). lbw offering no shot to Henry Brookes, and Harry Podmore lbw to Ryan Sidebottom, in the morning.
But Robinson found a resolute partner in Matt Milnes and the eighth-wicket pair added 84 in 26 overs before the latter (28, 81 balls, five fours) perished in bizarre fashion. Sweeping at Jeetan Patel, he survived an lbw appeal only to be adjudged out caught after the ball looped off the back of the bat to slip.
When Robinson finally fell, stumped off Patel, Kent declared. They left the home side 21 overs to bat before tea and struck twice in that time as Will Rhodes bottom-edged a wide long hop from Darren Stevens to the wicketkeeper and Liam Banks edged Milnes’s first ball to third slip.
Dominic Sibley and Sam Hain added 48 in 16 overs before the latter edged Milnes behind. Without Ian Bell, who is ruled out until June by a foot injury, Warwickshire were left leaning heavily on Sibley. Having been guilty of a couple of expensive dropped catches, the vice-captain owed his team some runs and he dug in to reach the close on 60 from 158 balls while Adam Hose reined in his usual aggression for an unbeaten 29 from 65 balls.
Zak Crawley led the way with a polished century as Kent took advantage of a good batting pitch more redolent of August than April on the opening day against Warwickshire at Edgbaston.
In the clash of the two newly-promoted Specsavers County Championship Division One sides, Kent chose to bat on a pale, true surface and closed the first day on 367 for five.
Twenty-one-year-old Crawley was the only member of the top four to take full advantage as he struck his second first-class century – 108 from 172 balls with 18 fours. But there were enough smaller contributions to make an injury-depleted Warwickshire attack toil hard for success and captain Heino Kuhn (72, 97 balls, 12 fours) and Ollie Robinson (59 not out, 104 balls, nine fours) cemented their team’s advantage after tea with a fifth-wicket stand of 119.
With front-line bowlers Chris Woakes, Olly Stone and Liam Norwell on the injured-list, the Bears have started the season short of seamers and selected Tom Milnes, who is uncontracted but back on trial at the club he left in 2015. The attack persevered on a pitch giving them little margin for error but Kent’s batsmen also applied themselves well and have the makings of a total from which to impose some serious scoreboard when Warwickshire go in.
Kent had no hesitation in choosing to bat first and seizing an opportunity for their batsmen to assert themselves and build some confidence after the collapse with cost their side victory in their opening game at Somerset last week. They started strongly as Crawley added 82 in 22.2 overs with Sean Dickson (31, 73 balls, four fours) and 87 in 27.1 overs with Matt Renshaw (87 balls, six fours). Dickson was the only man to fall in the morning session when he steered Ryan Sidebottom to Liam Banks in the gully.
From the strong platform of 169 for one, Kent hit an afternoon wobble when three wickets fell in 53 balls. Renshaw became Craig Miles’ first victim for Warwickshire when he edged the former Gloucestershire man to Tim Ambrose. The wicketkeeper soon swooped twice more, pouching Daniel Bell-Drummond from a outswinger from Henry Brookes and Crawley who inside-edged skipper Jeetan Patel.
At 204 for four, the day was in the balance but Kuhn and Robinson batted positively and with assurance. Kuhn fell lbw to Miles with the second new ball but 20-year-old Robinson recorded his maiden first-class half-century (81 balls, eight fours) and has power to add on the second morning.