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RESULT
23rd Match, Canterbury, May 10 - 13, 2024, County Championship Division One
(fo) 407 & 146/4

Match drawn

Report

Towering Leaning, dogged Finch set Kent up for high-scoring draw

Worcestershire give hosts a scare in the follow-on but ultimately the pitch is the winner

Harry Finch pulled off the vital stumping of Keaton Jennings, Lancashire vs Kent, County Championship, Division One, Old Trafford, May 5, 3024

Harry Finch made an unbeaten 48 after Kent were forced to follow on  •  Getty Images

Kent 407 (Leaning 179*, Bell-Drummond 67, Swanepoel 54, Leach 3-37) and 146 for 4 (Finch 48*) drew with Worcestershire 618 for 7 dec (Holder 123*, Roderick 117, Waite 100*, Hose 90, Kashif 72, Evison 3-58)
Kent survived some occasional alarms to bat out a draw with Worcestershire on the final day of their Vitality County Championship at Canterbury.
The captains shook hands just after five o'clock, with Kent on 146 for four in their second innings, still 65 runs behind Worcestershire's mammoth first innings core of 618 for seven declared.
Ben Gibbon claimed two for 38, but the visitors used nine different bowlers during Kent's second innings and failed to break down some stiff middle order resistance, spearheaded by Harry Finch who was unbeaten on 48.
Earlier Jack Leaning made an unbeaten 179 as Kent were all out for 407 in their first innings, still 211 behind, with Joe Leach taking three for 37 and Matthew Waite three for 51.
A draw was widely expected before the start of play, after three days that begged a number of questions.
There are many worse places to be than the St Lawrence on day four of a meandering county championship game, but when the balance is tilted so far in favour of the batters, just how useful an exercise is it when it comes to preparing battle-hardened, subcontinent-ready cricketers? And is a neutered four-day game just collateral damage?
Worcestershire didn't bowl at all badly, but took just six wickets during the whole of day three. Kent's analysts said their bowlers were hitting exactly the same lengths they'd hit during the win at Old Trafford, but it took them five sessions to take seven wickets.
There was competing pessimism beforehand. Away pessimists thought the pitch would win, while their home counterparts worried about mental lapses: you shouldn't lose 12 wickets in a day on this surface, but that didn't mean you wouldn't.
The visitors needed an early breakthrough but Nathan Gilchrist lasted for nearly an hour on his way to 12, before he eventually tried to hook Leach and was caught, at the third attempt, by Waite on the square leg boundary, perhaps lured by some inventive field settings.
When Kashif Ali bowled Matt Parkinson for two to wrap up the innings, Leaning was left unbeaten after a 403-ball innings that lasted nine-hours and 48 minutes, the second-longest recorded innings by time in Kent history after David Fulton's ten and a half hours vs Yorkshire at Maidstone in 1998.
There were still 73 overs remaining however and the loss of Zak Crawley early in Kent's second innings suggested the game might yet flicker into life.
Crawley lasted 15 balls before Jason Holder had him caught behind, leaving the England man with just 67 runs from six sub-optimal county innings this season.
It was 18 for one at lunch, during which the temperature dropped and clouds emerged. Gibbon then strangled Compton down the leg side for 11 and Nathan Smith had Joe Denly lbw for 10, reducing Kent to three for 36 with 55.4 overs remaining.
Bell-Drummond and Finch calmed home nerves by surviving till tea, at which point it was 104 for 3 but visiting hopes flared again when Gibbon clean-bowled the former, off-stump, for 41.
Evison joined Finch however and took the sting out of the contest, batting for nearly an hour and facing 47 balls on his way to an unbeaten eight.
When the occasional leggie Rob Jones became the ninth bowler Worcestershire to try and break through it was a sign the end was nigh and the teams eventually shook hands with potentially 16 overs remaining.

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County Championship Division One

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