Coles hits maiden ton as Kent punish Yorkshire
Yorkshire 32 for 0 trail Kent 537 for 9 dec by 505 runs
Kent's all-rounder Matt Coles may have been sent on a strength and conditioning course by England this winter to develop his potential as a seamer but James Whitaker, one of the three national selectors, will also report back from Headingley on his batting potential after witnessing his maiden first-class century.
Not 22 until next month, Coles teamed up with England's Potential Performance squad in Sri Lanka this winter before being added to the Lions squad as cover following Stuart Meaker's withdrawal with a back injury in the hope that by being stronger and fitter he would become a regular wicket-taker for Kent.
Those attending the opening championship match of the summer at Headingley are yet to see whether that has had an effect on his bowling fortunes, but it has certainly given him power and aggression with a bat in his hand as records tumbled on the second day of the match.
Yorkshire's cause was not helped by the loss of seamer Richard Pyrah, who was limited to only three overs in the morning session before going to hospital where it was confirmed he has broken his left ring finger and is likely to be out for several weeks.
Jason Gillespie, Yorkshire's coach, dismissed suggestions that the intense cold played a part. "He's a very good fielder and dives and makes stops all the times, so I think this is just a freak accident. It's a real shame for him."
Despite Pyrah's absence, full credit should still go to Coles, who arrived at the crease with Kent, who resumed on 345 for five, in danger of failing to reach 400 and transformed their fortunes with an 111-ball century which included eight fours and three sixes and shared a county record ninth wicket stand of with Mark Davies. It took Kent to a declared total of 537 for nine, their highest ever in Yorkshire, and strengthened their position in the game.
"I'd like to think I can bat after today," Coles said. "It's been there or thereabouts but after a hit like that hopefully I can nail that down and be a genuine all-rounder rather than just a bowler that bats a bit and gives it a whack. After today I will hopefully step up and take the all-rounder role and keep going from here and score a few more hundreds over the course of the summer."
Kent were threatening to throw away their good work on the opening day with Ajmal Shahzad claiming two wickets during an explosive early burst from the Kirkstall Lane end and then Adil Rashid, Yorkshire's leg-spinner, claimed another as Kent lost three wickets inside the first 15 overs.
Coles was aggressive from the start, reaching his half-century in only 47 balls, and with Davies' experience guiding him through from the other end, he capitalised on Yorkshire's attack losing their focus at times. He was not without good fortune with Ryan Sidebottom dropping him at backward square leg on 56 and failing to hold a swirling chance at mid-off on on 69.
Davies fell shortly after reaching his half-century, edging Anthony McGrath to slip, leaving Coles potentially stranded on 95 when last man Charlie Shreck walked out to join him. He drove Rashid straight to Andrew Gale, Yorkshire's captain, on the cover boundary who somehow spilled the regulation catch with Coles admitting: "my heart was in my mouth."
He took no more chances with the next delivery and reverse swept Rashid for six to bring up his century and prompt the declaration. There was only enough time for nine overs to be bowled before tea, which Yorkshire survived without any further setback, before rain and bad light caused a premature end to the day's play.