Kent v Gloucestershire, Canterbury, 2nd day April 27, 2011

Ball a rare positive for struggling Kent

Gloucestershire 292 and 40 for 1 v Kent 208

Only a promising 46 from Kent debutant Adam Ball prevented Gloucestershire from taking a complete stranglehold on day two of their Championship Division Two match against Kent at Canterbury. The 18-year-old from Greenwich batted almost two hours, hitting six fours and a six to become Kent's top-scorer in a disappointing total of 208 all out as Gloucestershire secured a first innings lead of 84.

Batting again just after 5pm, Gloucestershire lost Ian Cockbain for six, Hamish Marshall and Richard Coughtrie survived the remaining 10 overs to reach 40 for 1 - an overall lead of 124 going into day three.

Responding to Gloucestershire's workmanlike first innings of 292, Kent lost early wickets and opener Joe Denly, who retired hurt with a fractured thumb. Ball and England offspinner James Tredwell (44) teamed up for 20.5 overs to save Kent's blushes with a battling seventh-wicket stand.

Denly left the field as early as the sixth over and with only eight against his name. He went for an immediate scan on his right thumb, injured the previous evening when making a stop in the field, and only returned to bat once the break had been confirmed and after the fall of Kent's eighth wicket.

Three overs after Denly's premature departure Sam Northeast (2) fenced at one from Jon Lewis that he might have left then, just before lunch, Martin van Jaarsveld (23) played across an Ian Saxelby off-cutter to become the first of Kent's four leg-before victims. There was little or no mitigation for Geraint Jones who, with only one off his bat, holed out to deep midwicket to send the hosts into the break on 78 for 3.

Soon after the resumption Darren Stevens (16) also paid the price for working across the line and went leg-before to David Payne who then got one to lift and leave Rob Key. The Kent captain could only feather into the gloves of Jonathan Batty.

Six balls later Azhar Mahmood fell without scoring, lbw to Saxelby and at 108 for 6 Kent were still in danger of following on until Ball and Tredwell combined to lift the spirits of Kent's beleaguered supporters. The pair added 70 - the best partnership for any Kent wicket so far this season - with Tredwell playing second fiddle to rookie Ball. The young right-hander drove six sweet boundaries and hooked a six over mid-wicket off Saxelby that ended the follow-on threat.

Tredwell, who enjoyed a life when Cockbain dropped a tough chance at second slip, ultimately went leg before for 44 and Ball followed soon after tea, caught behind when pushing away from his body. It sparked a collapse that saw Kent lose their last three wickets inside 10 balls without addition to their disappointing total of 208.

Kent had needed only nine balls at the start of the day to polish off the visitor's first innings, Simon Cook trapping Payne leg before without a run added to the overnight score.