Kent v Northamptonshire, Canterbury, 1st day May 1, 2013

Bell-Drummond the most enchanting tale for Kent

Kent 271 (Bell-Drummond 68, Copeland 5-71) v Northamptonshire
Scorecard

After choosing to bat, Kent managed no more than respectability in front of their first home crowd of the season. Daniel Bell-Drummond, who made his first Championship fifty, was the day's most enchanting Canterbury tale as Kent became the first team to secure a batting point against Northamptonshire in four attempts. They managed two but, after losing their last seven wickets for 67, finished well short of a third.

All of the Kent top-six were dismissed in double figures, which suggests an element of waste. A partnership worth 149 between Michael Powell and Bell-Drummond, as Northamptonshire went wicketless through the middle session, represented Kent making hay but although the sun shone almost unbroken, the visiting seamers were equally unflagging in their nagging. Trent Copeland hurried through the tail like a man left with a pile of photocopying on a Friday afternoon to finish with 5 for 71, his first five-wicket haul for Northants.

Despite Kent's collapse against the second new ball, it was the sight of Bell-Drummond, 19 years old and playing his ninth first-class match, crouched low before springing up on his toes to cut and drive through the off side that lingered in the memory. He scored 80 on debut in 2011 and impressed with 42 and 48 not out against the touring South Africans last summer but his form at the Under-19 World Cup, where much was expected of England, was abysmal, with 57 runs from six innings.

Having played most of his cricket as an opener, a discussion with Kent's coach, Jimmy Adams, at the start of this season led to him being shifted down the order and Bell-Drummond began life at No. 5 with his maiden first-class century in Kent's opener against Cardiff MCCU last month.

A slight figure with quick feet, Bell-Drummond hails from Lewisham, near the Docklands area of southeast London. His build would probably disqualify him from a career as a stevedore - the breeze tugging at his sweater at times threatened to blow him completely off course - but in the more genteel surroundings of the St Lawrence Ground he looks perfectly at home. At the other end, Powell, an altogether burlier presence at the crease, crunched the ball monotonously to the boundary.

This may notionally have been the Division Two leaders against second-bottom but Kent are a solid, if unspectacular side, who would expect to win more games than they lose this year. That will not inflame the romantics, who can look around the St Lawrence Ground and see stands named after Cowdrey, Woolley, Underwood and Knott, but Adams has built a side that were in contention for promotion throughout most of last season and would hope to muscle their way close again.

If so, it will be under a new captain, with James Tredwell succeeding Rob Key over the winter. A healthy number of spectators were ranged around the ground by 11am, windcheaters and sunhats fighting for ascendency, to check on the team's progress after draws against Leicestershire and Lancashire but, after Tredwell had chosen to bat, the morning session was delayed for around ten minutes by the forgetfulness of one.

Kent extends the privilege of parking within the ground to members but forgetting to cover the windscreen with a tartan blanket is frowned upon. The hold-up was the result of sunlight reflected behind the bowler's arm - the car's number plate was duly read out over the public address - and the owner may have had to suffer one or two glares himself, as Kent slipped to 55 for 3 shortly after. Copeland, David Willey and Steven Crook made the breakthroughs but Kent's fourth-wicket pair prevented any broken windshields before lunch.

When Bell-Drummond did fall, it was by hook and by Crook. Having watched Kyle Coetzer fudge the simplest of catches off a top-edge at square leg when on 32, Bell-Drummond obligingly lobbed the same bowler to midwicket after tea. Crook has been the ringleader of the tormenters for Northamptonshire (he now has 21 wickets at 14.90) and he also removed Powell with the old ball to enhance his surprise status as one of the signings of the season.

Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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