Kent v Durham Canterbury, 1st day September 24, 2008

Harmison puts the skids under Kent

Jeremy James at Canterbury

Kent 190 for 9 (Key 58, Harmison 4-72) v Durham

Steve Harmison roars his delight at dismissing Joe Denly for a duck © Getty Images
In three spells from the Nackington Road End at Canterbury, Steve Harmison, who took 4 for 72, bowled with sufficient pace, rhythm and hostility to give Durham some hope that they might yet become county champions for the first time. Kent, themselves in need of points to make certain of avoiding relegation to the second division for the first time, collapsed to 190 for 9 before bad light brought about an early close.

Mark Davies and the younger Harmison, Ben, took two wickets apiece in conditions which were more conducive to batting than had appeared in the first over after Durham had won the toss and decided to field. The ball swung and there was movement off the seam, but a classy batsman such as Rob Key was still able to drive off front and back foot alike.

It was Harmison senior who made the difference for Durham, however. He removed Joe Denly for his third duck in succession with his third ball, which lifted and was taken by Phil Mustard. The quick out-swinger at the beginning of his third spell with which he removed Key in much the same way was the perfect delivery, taking the edge of the bat as Kent's captain pushed forward outside off stump.

This was the crucial wicket in that Key had made 58 including ten fours, each one struck off the middle of the bat, off exactly 100 balls. Harmison also had Justin Kemp lbw, shaping to play through midwicket, and Yasir Arafat was held at gully, ambitiously square cutting, which gave him his third wicket for four runs in ten balls - and 57 in Championship cricket for the season.

Durham's attack was switched around intelligently by Dale Benkenstein: Mark Davies also took a wicket in his first over when he had Geraint Jones leg before padding up to a ball too close to off stump. In addition, he dismissed Martin van Jaarsveld immediately after lunch, an attempted pull lobbying up to mid-off from a leading edge.

Kent's batting in mid-afternoon was dismal. They lost four wickets for nine runs, two of these to Ben Harmison, who had Darren Stevens lbw, padding up like Jones, and Ryan McLaren well taken by a diving Mustard. Arafat was next to go, followed by Robbie Joseph, who batted better than some of those ahead of him in the order but was also caught behind, this time off Callum Thorp. After that there would be no recovery.

This was despite the fact that the pitch was sited almost on the edge of the square, the upshot of which was a short boundary in front of the Kent Academy - not that there was one over of spin bowled all day. Had James Tredwell not been dropped before he had scored, Kent would have been all out before bad light brought about an early tea interval at 3.30, and the eventual close.

Briefly, Durham moved into second place in the first division table, their hopes of finishing there or still higher enhanced by events at Taunton. By the close, however, that had changed.