Ben Smith's maiden CricInfo Championship century of the summer helped put Leicestershire in command on the opening day of their clash with Kent in Canterbury.

Batting first on a sublime pitch, Leicestershire and Smith in particular took advantage of unusually short St Lawrence boundaries and some mediocre Kent bowling to post 296 for four come the close.

Prodigal son Trevor Ward, the former Kent opener who graced Canterbury for 14 years before his switch to the East Midland two years ago, suffered a disappointing return when he went to the second ball of the day.

Pushing forward to a lifting leg-cutter he edged to Paul Nixon to become the first of three victims for Martin Saggers.

That bought together Iain Sutcliffe and Smith for a second wicket stand worth 190 in 75 overs - a new record for the Foxes against Kent beating Laurie Potter and James Whitaker's 176 in Folkestone back in 1989.

Smith scored his ton in 246 minutes and with 13 fours and Sutcliffe reached his half-century from the next delivery from 184-balls and with six boundaries.

Their stand came to an end three balls after tea when Smith aimed to drive at Saggers but lifted the ball enough for Matthew Walker to claim the catch at cover.

Sutcliffe's vigil ended when he risked a single to Min Patel at cover, only to be sent back by Daniel Marsh and lose the race to re-gain his ground when Nixon whipped off the bails.

Marsh made amends, however, lifting the tempo and the spirit of the innings with a chirpy 72 with 12 fours before falling in the final over of the day after being undone by the extra bounce of the new ball.