Denly guides Kent to comfortable win
Kent 203 for 3 (Denly 82*) beat Gloucestershire 200 (Gidman 3-28) by seven wickets
Joe Denly's unbeaten 82 helped Kent to kick off their 165th Canterbury Week fixtures with a comfortable seven-wicket Royal London Cup win over Gloucestershire. Denly hit nine fours and a six to anchor the successful Spitfires run-chase to secure a fourth South Group win with 52 balls to spare and maintain Kent's hopes of securing a quarter-final berth.
In pursuit of Gloucestershire's modest total of 200 all out, Kent were given a sound start by in-form openers Denly and Daniel Bell-Drummond, who both went into the game boasting a 60-plus average in this season's 50-over competition.
On a tricky pitch on which boundaries came at a premium, the pair equalled Kent's record List A first-wicket stand against Gloucestershire - drawing level with the 92 set by Brian Luckhurst and Graham Jonson here in 1972 - when Bell-Drummond fell for 42. Playing back to one from Benny Howell that just held its line against the St Lawrence slope, the ball clipped off stump to end Bell-Drummond's 59-ball stay.
Denly, who posted centuries in Kent's Royal London games against Glamorgan in June and at the Ageas Bowl against Hampshire recently, maintained his form by marching to a 71-ball 50 with seven fours.
Kent skipper Sam Northeast contributed 26 to the chase before he mistimed a back-foot force against one that held up on the surface to clip a return catch to the bowler David Payne and make it 146 for 2.
Sam Billings erratic form continued when he too clipped back a miscued drive to the bowler, this time against spinner Graeme van Buuren, bringing in Darren Stevens, batting in black trainers. Where others had struggled for their timing, Stevens was soon blazing it to all parts. He moved past 7000 List A career runs in the process and went on to win the game with a pulled six to finish unbeaten on 28 from 21 balls.
Having won the toss and elected to field, Kent made their opening breakthrough with the 12th ball of the day and the sixth delivery down the Nackington Road slope from Matt Coles. A quick inswinging yorker, the ball beat Phil Mustard's clip to leg and rearranged the stumps to make it 7 for 1. Coles struck again in his third over, beating Ian Cockbain's back-foot defensive push to send the right-hander packing lbw for 6.
The dismissal brought together Gloucestershire captain Michael Klinger and Kiwi batsman Hamish Marshall. The pair added 42 in 12.1 overs until Klinger, on 36 and in aiming to steer one from Darren Stevens down to third man, only succeeded in toe-ending the ball onto the base of off stump.
Stevens completed his 10-over stint with figures of 1 for 28 as the visitors limped to 96 for 3 at the midpoint of their innings. Stevens was duly replaced by Charlie Hartley, making his first Kent appearance since late 2014.
Fresh from back-to-back five-wicket hauls for Kent 2nds, Hartley struck in his second over, trapping Marshall lbw for 43 with a full offcutter as the batsman aimed to clip leg-side. Hartley struck again in near identical fashion on his next over, snaring Van Buuren lbw as the fifth successive wicket of the innings fell from the same end.
That run was broken in the next over when Jack Taylor chipped a slower ball straight back to Will Gidman, the on-loan Nottinghamshire seamer making his home debut for Kent against his former county, who took a comfortable return catch. Gidman struck again by clipping the top of Benny Howell's leg stump with an in-ducker then another slower delivery, a low full-toss, accounted for Craig Miles who clipped it straight to midwicket.
Tom Smith and David Payne added 36 for ninth wicket before Payne ran himself out when chancing a second run to Bell-Drummond at deep cover. As Gloucestershire finally limped to 200, so Mitch Claydon took his sole wicket by bowling Matt Taylor in the final over, leaving Tom Smith unbeaten on 29.