Northamptonshire dig in for share of the spoils against Kent

Northamptonshire ensured they will go into the break for the Vitality T20 Blast comfortably outside the LV= Insurance County Championship Division One relegation zone with a hard-fought draw against Kent.

By Jeremy Casey
Monday, 23rd May 2022, 9:54 am
England's Zak Crawley scored 84 for Kent in their second innings against Northants on Sunday
England's Zak Crawley scored 84 for Kent in their second innings against Northants on Sunday

The County did enough on Sunday to avoid the follow on after Kent had posted 519 for nine declared in their first innings, and from that point on the game meandered to its inevitable conclusion as the points were shared.

Northants were eventually bowled out for 430, with Kent then easing to 170 for one in their second innings ahead of the captains shaking hands.

It was a fifth draw in six Championship matches for John Sadler's side, and the 12 points gained saw them move up one place to seventh in the division one table, leapfrogging

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Somerset who had suffered a 10-wicket thrashing at the hands of Hampshire on Saturday.

Ricardo Vasconcelos's team also stay 13 points clear of second-from-bottom Kent.

The Championship is now put on hold until the end of June as focus switches to white ball cricket and the Blast, that starts on Thursday with the Steelbacks travelling to Edgbaston to take on Birmingham Bears, before hosting Durham 24 hours later.

On Sunday, England opener Zak Crawley scored his second half-century of the match, which is a boost for him ahead of the first Test against New Zealand that starts next week (June 1).

With little riding on the day as the game drifted towards a draw, Crawley settled for some time in the middle, sharing a 149-run opening stand with run machine Ben Compton.

The opener has already scored 878 runs this season, and is now averaging just shy of 110.

Northants had started the day needing 23 more runs to avoid the threat of the follow-on.

Matt Quinn and Darren Stevens kept things tight early on during a tense opening 20 minutes which saw Tom Taylor fall, caught at second slip, without a run being added in five overs.

Gareth Berg opted for the attacking option, taking the County to the brink of safety by smoting George Linde for six over long-on while Lewis McManus, batting with an injured finger, posted a hugely valuable undefeated fifty, his second since joining the club on loan.

Ben Sanderson freed his arms, unfurling a string of crunching cover drives in a last wicket stand with McManus worth 54 before Daniel Bell-Drummond ended the fun by knocking back Sanderson’s off-stump just before lunch.

Northants batsman Josh Cobb said: “Kent didn’t make it easy [to avoid the follow on].

"But once we did that, the game was almost dead and buried. We could have probably shaken hands there then and gone home, but great effort to get past it from us.

"But , it’s a long four days and we’re getting a good draw out of it. It puts us in a good state going into the T20s."

Cobb, who has played in the past two Championship, will now concentrate on skippering the Steelbacks, and he is hopeful wicket-keeper McManus will be fit to play despite suffering an injured finger against Kent.

“Lewis McManus played exceptionally well," said Cobb.

"He was obviously struggling a bit with his finger, but I think he’ll be fine moving forward to the T20s.

"The most important thing for us in terms of the game was getting past the follow on, just almost kill the game. And we did that, so we’re pleased with that.”

Northants return to Championship action on June 26 when they host champions Warwickshire at Wantage Road.