David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps
Kent 144 for 7 (Cox 32*) beat Glamorgan 104 (Milnes 5-22) by 40 runs
If you are going to directly clash a Glamorgan T20 Blast tie with a Wales match in the European Championship, then at least reward those who turn up with a decent pitch. Instead, the surface at Sophia Gardens was roguish and the loudest cheers of the night, which sounded from the crowd when Wales secured a 2-0 win against Turkey, suggested that many thoughts had strayed elsewhere.
This was a dreadful match. Kent scrambled to 144 for 7 with a series of batters persistently mistiming shots and, upon their dismissal - the shot that mattered most - some batters, to various degrees, allowed themselves an aggrieved look. Predictably, this mediocre total proved to be of gargantuan proportions as Glamorgan made 104 with Matt Milnes working up a decent head of steam to take 5 for 22. Kent now have four wins in five and will be relieved to move on, their position in the top four of South Group strengthened.
Milnes' five wickets included three excellent top-order scalps, incuding two overseas players. David Lloyd pulled him to deep square leg and there were two return catches - Marnus Labuschagne failing to loft over the head (cue intense shot practice on the way back to the pavilion) and Colin Ingram, a little cramped on a pull shot, contriving to send it back in his direction. Even at 59 for 4, at halfway, the outcome felt predictable.
To play this T20 tie on the same day as Wales' clash with Turkey was bad enough and would have been best avoided. To begin at the same time owed something to misfortune, forced upon Glamorgan by a malfunctioning scoreboard and the recognition that the previous match had finished in bad light. But also to contest it on a two-paced pitch of unreliable bounce - a different kind of turkey - did nothing to persuade those cricket lovers, or football haters, that they had made the right decision to turn up.
Matthew Maynard, Glamorgan's coach, proferred: "It was a difficult wicket to bat on - both teams found that", before adding: "You have to play on instinct in T20 cricket and that instinct was maybe a little bit off today."
Instinct, though, is undermined by a lack of trust, especially when modern-day players expect T20 pitches to be true. Cricket pitches are natural and variable and, allowing for interesting and valid experiments with hybrid pitches, may that always remain the case. Neither does every game has to finish 200 v 200 - good bowlers deserve the chance to succeed. But this was not a match when skilful bowlers dominated, it was just a cricketing dirge in which the bowlers - any bowler - were bound to get lucky in the end.
Glamorgan are far from alone in occasionally producing indifferent surfaces: this is a general observation. The wider perspective is that the T20 Blast is struggling to assert its status in a summer when the Hundred is to be launched and every night of poor entertainment is a sword in its side. Produce these sorts of pitches when Welsh Fire is the name above the home dressing-room, and there will be a secretive ECB inquest. Call me cynical, but they've probably reserved the best pitches already.
Kent fielded two players who had been freed from England duty - and both were ill-served by this match, as was another player of recent England vintage, Joe Denly, whose frantic innings suggested he was spooked by the whole thing.
Zak Crawley, who made 15, desperately needed a chance to rebuild his belief, to restore his touch. Instead, he was part of a frenetic Kent start that, one ball after the Powerplay, saw them 37 for 3 as he mistimed a pull at a long hop from the slow left-armer Prem Sisodiya and fell at short fine leg. He might be in bad form, but he is not in that bad form.
Sam Billings managed 30 from 30 balls, the top score of the night, sensibly compiled. Having been beaten by a couple of balls that bounced far more than he expected, he was bowled by Dan Douthewaite as he pulled above one that didn't get up.
Billings has netted and played head tennis in the Test bubble for the past few weeks, while loyally observing James Bracey take the gloves ahead of him. He has also had a couple of T20 matches for Kent, the side he captains, but all too rarely, and is due to join up with England's T20I squad - also in Cardiff - at the weekend, where he also may not play.
Billings is 30, at the peak of athletic prowess, holding admirable ambitions, and has had three innings all summer. What an appalling waste of his talents this is. There has to be a better way. This observation may have been made before.
Billings' two successive sixes over midwicket against Andrew Salter (had Kiran Carlson been on the rope, he might have intervened) represented the most dominant batting minute of the night in a match containing 22 boundaries in 38 overs. His first slog-sweep was imperfectly timed, so Salter tossed up another one, as if for practice.
Labuschagne also took two intelligent wickets, having Jack Leaning caught at the wicket, cutting, and then tossing one up wide of off stump for Darren Stevens, who had timed a couple, to pick out deep cover.
Labuschagne will probably be regarded, statistically, as failing in the Blast for the first time this season but actually his 22 was the second top-score in Glamorgan's reply, outdone only by some late-order slogging by James Weighell after Milnes had ripped the heart out of their innings. But at least Aaron Ramsey, 3,000 miles away in the Baku Olympic Stadium, made the night worthwhile for the hosts.