Harmison, Stevens rescue Kent
Kent 334 for 6 (Harmison 106, Stevens 98*, Key 53) v Gloucestershire
Ben Harmison scored his second hundred of the season against Gloucestershire and Darren Stevens hit an unbeaten 98 as Kent recovered from a poor start to dominate the opening day of their Championship Divistion Two clash at Canterbury.
Having slumped to 46 for 3 after winning the toss and electing to bat, Kent closed on 334 for 6 and posted three bonus batting points in front of a 2,500-strong crowd for the opening day of the 162nd Canterbury Cricket Week.
The early blows were all landed by the Gloucestershire new ball attack as Kent lost three wickets in the opening session. They made the worst of starts when Sam Northeast pushed half forward to the sixth ball of the day from Will Gidman only to see it dart back off the seam and peg back middle stump.
Eight overs later Daniel Bell-Drummond jumped back in defence to an inswinger from left-arm seamer David Payne and was trapped leg-before to make it 20 for 2.
Brendan Nash, who hit an unbeaten 199 before retiring ill in the corresponding game at Cheltenham earlier in the summer, reached 14 before he played too soon on a pull shot against Liam Norwell and dragged the ball onto leg stump.
Having lunched at 72 for 3, Kent's middle order batted with determination thereafter on a pitch that offered some assistance to the seamers operating from the Nackington Road End. Rob Key posted his third 50 of the campaign from 118 balls and with four fours, but soon after pushed in defence at military-medium seamer Benny Howell to be caught behind.
After surviving three huge appeals early in his innings, Harmison dug in together with Stevens to add 133 for Kent's fifth wicket in a shade over 30 overs. Having grown accustomed to the pace of the pitch, both men started to time the ball sweetly and, for the first time in the day, the visiting attack was made to look ordinary.
Harmison, the former Durham allrounder, drove well between mid-on and mid-off to move to his second ton for Kent from 181 balls and with 15 fours. But, soon after, the tall left-hander nibbled at one outside off-stump from Norwell to be caught behind and bring in former England wicketkeeper Geraint Jones,
On the counter Stevens and Jones added 69 in 15 overs for the sixth wicket but the most attractive batting of the day ended five overs from the close when Jones edged a full-blown drive through to the keeper.
Stevens, Kent's player of the season and having hit 17 boundaries in his fluent 202-minute stay, was only two short of his third century of the Championship season when stumps were drawn at the end of the day.