Day One

An impressive performance from Scott Currie on debut helped ensure Hampshire finished with the momentum on day one of their Bob Willis Trophy clash against Kent at Canterbury.

The 19-year-old's lower order contribution with the bat was crucial in pushing Hampshire to 191 in the first-innings, before a maiden first-class scalp reduced Kent to 21-2 at stumps.

Kent all-rounder Darren Stevens took his third five-wicket haul of the summer and the 29th of an illustrious career as the 44-year-old bowled 27 overs in four separate stints to finish with a season’s best five for 37. The veteran, making his fifth red-ball appearance of a shortened campaign, has now taken 25 wickets at the frugal average of 16.68 apiece.

In the 13 overs through to the close, Kent lost both their openers in fast-fading light.  Jordan Cox was caught at slip off teenager Currie and Daniel Bell-Drummond had his off stump trimmed by Ian Holland as the hosts went in at stumps on 21 for two to trail by 170 going into day two.   

Batting first after losing the toss in overcast conditions, Hampshire openers Joe Weatherley and Holland made a cautious and watchful start scoring 36 runs in the opening hour.

Matt Milnes gave Kent their opening breakthrough in the 23rd over when Holland’s airy back-foot waft outside off stump flew off the shoulder of the bat to Heino Kuhn at slip.

Milnes should had picked up a second scalp soon after when Tom Alsop, cutting with just a single to his name, was downed in the gully by Marcus O’Riordan.

Weatherley, on 37, went in the next over, however, leg before when playing inside the line of a full-length away-swinger from Podmore as the visitors lunched on 89 for two.   

Alsop added seven to his score before departing soon after the resumption. Prodding at one that ran away from the left-hander, Stevens, who had switched to bowl down the Nackington Road slope, found an outside edge for Kuhn to take a second catch at slip.

Two balls later Felix Organ, off balance and working to leg, played across a straight one from Stevens to go lbw and make it 99 for four.

With the floodlights on for the second time Stevens, now swinging the ball at will under cloudy skies, bagged his third by getting one to float up the hill and feather the outside edge of Sam Northeast’s bat for the simplest of catches to the keeper. The Hampshire skipper departed for 16, then Lewis McManus (17) followed in near identical fashion in Stevens’ next over.

Tom Scriven should have joined them with his score on three but Robinson downed a diving chance away to his right off the bowling of Grant Stewart.   

Stevens rested after a fabulous stint of 10-7-16-4, but Scriven’s let off counted for nought when he nibbled one from Milnes to Robinson, who this time made no mistake.    

Robinson took an even better catch three balls later, tumbling away to his right to claim the outside edge off Mason Crane’s bat as he pushed in defence off the back foot.

Ninth-wicket partners Brad Wheal and Currie dug in after tea adding 46 before Currie, the first-class debutant on 38, fenced at a Podmore lifter to Robinson behind the timbers.

Stevens wrapped it up soon after, bagging his third five-wicket return of the season when Ajeet Dale dabbed an away-swinger to the keeper for Robinson’s sixth catch of the day.

Stevens starred, but Milnes with three for 54 and Podmore. two for 49, offered excellent support.     


Day Two

Some 13 wickets fell during an enthralling day as Kent and Hampshire battled for ascendancy on day two of their Willis Trophy south group clash in Canterbury.

Though Kent are well placed having reduced the visitors to 108 for five in their second innings, the errant hosts will be angered by six dropped catches – blunders that may yet allow Hampshire to wriggle free from the hook in this hard-fought game.    

Hampshire, batting again by 3.35pm, having banked a first-innings lead of 21 and with 40 overs remaining, lost Ian Holland to the 15th ball of their second innings, trapped leaden-footed and lbw on the crease by Harry Podmore.

Podmore celebrated in his next over by removing Tom Alsop. Aiming to work an in-swinger through the leg side, the left-hander was snaffled at third slip off a thick outside edge.

In the tea over, former Kent skipper Sam Northeast completed a miserable return to his old stomping ground by falling cheaply to Darren Stevens for the second time in the game. Working across the line of an off-cutter, Northeast departed leg before for two.

Two balls after the resumption, Felix Organ bagged a pair when his crab-like defensive push pegged back leg stump via an inside edge as Stevens claimed two in the over and Organ for the second time in as many days.

Joe Weatherley should have departed four balls later, but his edged prod against Podmore was downed by Zak Crawley at second slip - Kent’s fourth drop of the game. Two runs on, Crawley made amends, hanging on to a low edge from Weatherley off a Podmore out-swinger.

Kent’s cordon grassed a fifth chance when Jack Leaning spilled a Lewis McManus tickle at third slip off the bowling of Grant Stewart.

McManus, who was dropped on 14, watched as his partner Tom Scriven was given a life on 36 as Crawley downed another tough, low chance at second slip off Stevens allowing Hampshire’s sixth-wicket pair to add an unbroken 85 through to stumps – comfortably the highest stand of the match to date.

Resuming on their parlous overnight score of 21 for two, Kent’s seemingly powerful batting line-up proceeded to make a hash of their response losing new Test star, Crawley, to the first ball of the morning.

Driving at a full-length off cutter from Scott Currie, Crawley was sent packing lbw by umpire Billy Taylor for an eight-ball duck, then Night watchman Matt Milnes followed, caught and bowled by Currie following a top-edged pull.    

Though the occasional delivery misbehaved off the pitch, Kent’s fifth-wicket partners Heino Kuhn and Leaning maintained positive intent. Dispatching anything loose, they added 34 until Leaning sparred at a Scriven out-swinger and nicked to the keeper.

Hampshire’s astute medium-pacers Holland and Scriven excelled in tandem, and the latter squared up Oli Robinson with one that lifted, left and took the edge for a looping catch to second slip as Kent lunched on 101 for six.

Kuhn, solid for his 34 runs, drove rashly on the up to be caught at extra cover off Brad Wheal then Stevens, making a rare appearance at No9 in Kent’s order, fell for an eight-ball duck.

Wheal enticed Grant Stewart to pull a bouncer straight to square leg, bringing together Marcus O’Riordan and Podmore for Kent’s best partnership.

Last man Podmore hit out lustily while O’Riordan played each ball on its merits in a stand worth 47 off 62 balls. Their fun ended with the total on 170 when Mason Crane’s top-spinner snared top-scorer O’Riordan (37) lbw, leaving Podmore unbowed on 30.

Currie returned three for 42 on Willis Trophy debut, while Wheal, Holland and Scriven bagged two apiece.


Day Three

England Test batsman Zak Crawley hammered an imperious 94-ball century to help Kent to a seven-wicket Bob Willis Trophy win over Hampshire in Canterbury.  

Crawley, who stroked 18 boundaries during his 146-minute stay, joined forces with Marcus O’Riordan (52*) – his former Tonbridge School team-mate – to mark their maiden first-class partnership with a match-winning second-wicket stand worth 157 as Kent cantered home with a day and 21 overs to spare.

Crawley, who suffered an eight-ball duck in the first innings here, reached three figures for only the fifth time in domestic first-class cricket with a rasping pulled four against seamer Ajeet Dale.

With the hosts needing only 16 for victory, Crawley blotted his copybook by missing an ambitious sweep against leg-spinner Mason Crane to depart leg before for 105.

Jack Leaning was bowled by Dale for a duck during the final throws, but O’Riordan, diligent to the end, saw the job through with an unbeaten 52, reaching his maiden first-class 50 from 121 balls and with six fours.

Kent had made a miserable start to their successful pursuit when acting captain Daniel Bell-Drummond became a first-over casualty, bowled for seven after allowing the ball from Ian Holland to spin back onto his stumps and dislodge the off bail.    

But O’Riordan, playing as Kent’s makeshift opening bat due to Jordan Cox’s issues with stomach cramps, combined with Crawley to add 50 inside 66 minutes.

The tall right-hander celebrated the let-off by cracking three more quick-fire boundaries off Scriven to reach a 44-ball 50 with 10 fours.      

The pair took their run-a-minute stand into three figures inside 24 overs, by which time the classy Crawley was virtually playing see-ball, hit ball.

Despite dropping six cordon catches in the opening two days of the game, Kent polished off their win soon after tea to secure their third Willis Trophy victory in five starts. Their only defeat coming in the opening round away to Essex, who had secured their south group title with a nine-wicket triumph over Middlesex at Chelmsford earlier in the day.  

Hampshire had started day three on their overnight total of 108 for five – for an overall lead in the match of 129 runs – yet failed to bat out the morning session despite a three-hour career-best vigil worth 68 by Tom Scriven.

They added only two before Lewis McManus steered Harry Podmore’s lifting leg-cutter to third slip without adding to his 95-ball half-century.

Scriven, the 21-year-old all-rounder making his second Willis Trophy appearance, reached his maiden first-class 50 from 96 balls and with nine fours with a rasping square drive against Grant Stewart who, somewhat unusually, opened the bowling ahead of Kent’s leading wicket-taker Darren Stevens.

Podmore bagged his first five-wicket return of the campaign in his next over by enticing debutant Scott Currie to follow an away-swinger and edge low to slip.

Stevens replaced Stewart at The Nackington Road End after 40 minutes’ play and, as if to make a point to acting skipper Bell-Drummond, struck with his fifth ball by removing Crane after a sliced drive to gully.

With Matt Milnes unable to bowl and off the field with a stiff back, Stewart was switched to the Pavilion End to replace Podmore but, despite beating the bat on numerous occasions struggled to find an edge.

Kent’s relentless pressure paid dividends, however, when Scriven dragged an attempted straight drive against Stevens straight into the hands of Podmore at mid-on.

Stewart finally got his deserved wicket and denied Stevens another five-wicket return when last man Dale edged an attempted push drive through to the keeper.

Podmore closed with season’s best figures of five for 43 and Stevens returned four for 35 and match figures of nine for 72.