Joe Denly hundred sends Ashes message as Kent fight back

Joe Denly peppers the off side Getty Images

Kent 319 for 3 (138*, Bell-Drummond 94) lead Hampshire 409 for 9 dec (Stevens 5-68) by 90 runs

While the likes of Sam Northeast, Dominic Sibley and Zak Crawley faced-off for England Lions for a potential Ashes place, Joe Denly brilliantly scored a century for Kent against Hampshire.

Denly, who is currently the man in possession of the No. 3 position in the England Test line-up, showed all his class by reaching his second Specsavers County Championship hundred of the season. The 33-year-old put on 206 with Daniel Bell-Drummond, who scored a magnificent 94 of his own, as Kent approached first-innings parity.

The Denly and Bell-Drummond axis was the perfect encore to Darren Stevens' 23rd first-class five-wicket haul, as the veteran had dominated the morning session with three wickets.

Stevens, who is 43 and playing in his 24th Championship campaign, followed up his two wickets with the new ball on the previous evening to prevent Hampshire from collecting maximum batting points.

Resuming on 340 for 6 under overcast skies which cleared throughout the day, Lewis McManus targeted the third man area with a number of early boundaries. But the hosts could only score 69 runs in 19 overs as they somewhat slumped to 409 for 9 before they declared.

Stevens had McManus caught behind for a well-made 49, before Kyle Abbott and Mason Crane departed in successive balls the former lbw and the latter caught at first slip. The allrounder ended with figures of 5 for 68, and took his first-class career tally to 491 scalps.

On a flat wicket, Kent never appeared in too much trouble and wickets came out the blue. Abbott managed to get one to nip back to Sean Dickson, who was lbw without playing a shot, in the 13th over.

Jordan Cox, on his debut, was dropped on 18 at first slip by Ian Holland but only scored nine more runs before he edged Keith Barker behind. But from then on Denly and Bell-Drummond scored runs at a steady rate, flirting at almost five runs and over throughout.

The Lions, which could be a shoot-out for a top-order spot against Australia next month, are playing a four-day match against Australia XI at Canterbury this week, with the tourists batting the entirety of the first day.

Denly sent his application in via postal vote. His fifty came in 74 balls and his hundred, almost in the blink of an eye, arrived in 144 balls - with a two down to fine leg.

Denly, who passed 11,500 first-class runs in the innings, scored the majority of his 18 boundaries with attention-grabbing drives. The one time Denly was put in much danger was to a Crane delivery which spat across him, taking his edge, but stayed too low for McManus to get his gloves to.

He eased to 138 at stumps, with captain Heino Kuhn partnering him with 28 - as Kent closed on 319 for 3, trailing by 90.

Kent 4th innings Partnerships

1st9JL DenlySR Dickson
2nd44JL DenlyAJ Blake
3rd3JL DenlyDJ Bell-Drummond
4th1JL DenlyOG Robinson