Wasteful batting leaves Kent under pressure
Northamptonshire 5 for 0 v Kent 280
Injury-hit Kent fielded three debutant bowlers for the opening day of their Championship clash with Northamptonshire in Canterbury only for their batsmen to fail once again. With six absentees through injury a much-changed Kent were forced to include local schoolboys Adam Ball and Adam Riley, as well as trialist Neil Saker, only to be skittled out by 5.30pm for a disappointing 280.
In near-ideal batting conditions only Rob Key and Martin van Jaarsveld posted half-centuries as the hosts were dismissed inside 90 overs with off-spinner James Middlebrook the pick of the visiting attack after bagging a useful 3 for 42.
In their opening three games of the Championship campaign Kent's batsmen have mustered only one century and that sorry trend continued despite a decent opening stand from Key and Sam Northeast (17) that posted 68 in 22.4 overs.
After 71 minutes of comfortable batting Northeast had his stumps rearranged after driving over a full-length ball from Chaminda Vaas to set the tone for the day. Thereafter, Kent's top-order all got themselves out when seemingly well set. Key appeared disappointed to be given out leg before to Jack Brooks, the ball after posting his 72-ball 50, then Geraint Jones fell one short of reaching the landmark after nicking to second slip to make it 139 for 3.
Playing against his former county, Van Jaarsveld appeared rock solid in stroking 10 boundaries in his 93-ball 50, but no-one matched the application to stay with him. Darren Stevens, having got underway with an edged drive for four over first slip, skied an attempted slog sweep against Middlebrook to mid-wicket then top-scorer Van Jaarsveld fell for 67 to the same bowler, clipping firmly off his legs only to see Stephen Peters pull off a stunning catch diving to his left.
Kent's rookie tail-end collapsed thereafter as the last five wickets fell for 47. A succession of ill-judged shots enabled Lee Daggett and Vaas to claim two wickets apiece while skipper Hall, who lost his seventh successive toss of the summer, chipped in with the wicket of debutant James Goodman.
Northamptonshire openers Peters and Mal Loye suffered no such alarms in the five overs through to stumps in reaching five without loss.