Yorkshire v Kent at Headingley September 16-19

Neil Whitaker reports

Day 1

VETERAN Darren Stevens hit his first  Specsavers County Championship century of the season and made it a double as he and skipper Sam Billings turned around Kent’s fortunes against Yorkshire on the first day at Emerald Headingley with a sixth wicket partnership of 346.

The pair came together at 11.18 after Kent had slumped to 39 for five in the 11th over after Kent decided to bat after winning the toss.  It was a sixth wicket record partnership for Kent against Yorkshire beating the 235 made by Graham Cowdrey and Steve Marsh at Canterbury in 1992.  The partnership was broken at 4.43 when Stevens on 237 tried to blast Ajaz Patel over mid wicket but found 17 year old Matthew Revis from Steeton on debut.

It was also a record breaking First class sixth wicket partnership at Emerald Headingley beating the 252 made by Richard Blakey and  Craig White against Lancashire in 1996. But the partnership should have been broken twice within the space of two runs. When the partnership was worth 218 he hit Matthew Fisher straight back over his head for a six.  He drilled the next ball to Duanne Olivier at mid on who dropped the simplest of chances and cut the next ball for a single to take him to 150, his eighth score of 150 in First class cricket. One run was added to the score when he miscued a drive off Patel and got an outside edge.  The ball swirled around with Tim Bresnan underneath it but he dropped it. The was broken when Stevens slog swept Patel for a six over mid wicket.  

He said: “Records are there to be broken.  When we came together we were in trouble in a tough situation. I said to Billings that I was going to be positive and get off strike trying to get the scoreboard moving. The big thing was to get us to 50, then to 60 and 70. I wanted to put my hand through the ball and put them under pressure and luckily it worked.

It hasn’t sunk in yet what I’ve done, I’ve just been standing on the balcony trying to take it all in.”

Stevens has had a great week, last Tuesday he top scored against Nottinghamshire with 88 and the with the ball he took 10 wickets for 92 to relegate them. He reached his first Championship century since May  2017 when he blasted Bresnan to the extra cover boundary. He celebrated by raising both arms in the air and turned to the visitors dressing room. Stevens added: “I am passionate about Kent. They gave my an opportunity 15 years ago, I know it’ll come to an end one day but I’m fit. I am loving  playing and want to play for another year. I’ve had a tough couple of years with the bat so I went away with an old batting coach of mine. We did a couple of hours hitting balls and he spotted a couple of things. In the last couple of weeks my batting has been alright.”His ton came from 129 balls and included 12 fours and a six.

He brought up the hundred partnership with Billings with a straight drive for single off Patterson.  On 64 he glanced Steven Patterson off his legs but Johnny Tattersall standing up couldn’t take the chance. 

The ever youthful Stevens played the shot of the morning a delightful cover drive off Fisher. There were more to come in the afternoon session. He reached his fifty in the grand style straight six when he lofted Yorkshire’s new signing New Zealand Test player Patel into the Emerald stand in the final over before lunch.  His fifty came from 59 balls and included seven fours and that six.

He was dismissive of Bresnan as he thrashed him off his legs to to the square leg boundary by the end of his innings he toyed with the Yorkshire bowlers as he kept finding the gaps.  He played a delightful late cut off Fisher to the third man boundary. He brought up the 150 partnership with Billings with a single.

As they neared the 200 partnership the Yorkshire fielders looked shattered and demoralised as Stevens swivelled round to pull a short ball from Patterson to the boundary.

He reached his 200 which came from 202 balls with 24 fours and seven sixes  when he pushed Bresnan out into the covers for a single. His celebration on reaching 200 was a lot mooted than his first.

Billings was very much the silent partner of the partnership as he let Stevens have free range.  In the afternoon session the pair added 204 in 36 overs with Stevens scoring 140 of them and Billings hit 54. He reached his first Championship century of the season with a beautiful drive to the extra cover boundary off Patterson.

Kent lost their first wicket in the third over when England hopeful Zak Crawley shouldered arms to Olivier and was leg before.  Four balls later Oliver Robinson tried to leave another ball from Olivier but the ball glanced his bat to Tattersall.

Olivier got his third wicket in his next over when he nipped one back at Faf Du Plessis and comprehensively bowled his former International captain.

Fisher, playing his first match since dislocating his shoulder and breaking his thumb against Derbyshire in the Vitality Blast at Chesterfield, bowled Daniel Bell-Drummond with one that kept low.  Heino Kuhn pushed forward at Olivier and was leg before.

Olivier got his fifth wicket of the match when Billings guided Olivier to Adam Lyth at gully who took the catch over his head.  His partnership with Rayner added 69 in 12 overs but hardly noticeable compared to the previous partnership. In the next over Harry Podmore played around a straight ball from Fisher and was bowled for a duck.

Stevens added: “We decided to bat because the pitch looked good.  At 10.30 in September on an overcast morning it could have gone the other way but we decided to bat to put a score on the board and put them under pressure.”

Day 2

MATT Milnes took his second five wicket haul of the season as Kent once again dominated the day’s play by dismissing Yorkshire for 269 giving them a lead of 213 and if they had held their chances Yorkshire would have been in a lot more trouble.

Milnes’ first victim was 18 year old Matthew Revis. Revis first innings lasted 75 minutes and he faced 54 balls for his nine.  He got a thick outside edge to Milnes and Oliver Robinson took a comfortable catch to atone for his earlier miss off Revis. Revis was fortunate to get off the mark after 14 balls in his first First class innings when he edged Podmore but Robinson could only get his fingertips to it at a catchable height and Revis picked up a couple.  On eight he edged a drive off Darren Stevens and was dropped at first slip by the reliable first slipper Ollie Rayner.

Next to fall to Milnes was Tom Kohler-Cadmore who too was dropped.  With three balls to go to lunch, Kohler-Cadmore on 27 edged Milnes to Robinson who dropped his second catch of the session. On 33 he survived a strong leg before appeal from Stevens but his luck was soon to run out.  After adding another three he left one from Milnes who sent his off stump cartwheeling out of the ground.

Harry Brook and Kohler-Cadmore rebuilt the Yorkshire innings and saw the Tykes through to lunch without any further loss. But the partnership was broken in the fourth over after lunch when Brook missed a straight ball which kept low from Milnes and was leg before.

Milnes fourth victim was Tim Bresnan when he tried to work him through mid wicket but missed the ball and lost his off stump to a yorker. He got his fifth wicket when Duanne Olivier played across a straight ball which was hitting leg and was leg before.  He said: “It was quite a good day and we stuck to our task well. We started the day well and as a unit we bowled really well.”

At the beginning of the day that man Darren Stevens was in the action again when he got the first Yorkshire wicket in his eighth over when he angled one across Adam  Lyth who edged it to Faf Du Plessis at second slip who took a god catch diving forward.

Four balls later Stevens got his second wicket four balls later when Gary Ballance played around a straight ball and was leg before.  Ballance got off the mark the previous ball when he was dropped by Zak Crawley at third slip and the ball raced to the boundary.

Kent dropped the fifth chance of the Yorkshire innings when Crawley at third slip dropped Johnny Tattersall on three.  It was a low chance to his left hand off Stevens.

After dropping two chances Crawley finally caught one when Tattersall pushed at one outside the off stump off  from Harry Podmore. Crawley took the catch at third slip moving to his right.

Rayner dropped his second catch when Matthew Fisher on three edged Podmore to him but he couldn’t hold on to the low chance at first slip.  After that chance Fisher batted with confidence and looks like with a couple of injury free seasons could become an usefull all rounder in the future. He reached his highest Championship score when he turned Podmore off his legs for a single to take him on to 38.

Kent took the new ball when it was available and struck with the last ball of the 81st over when Steven Patterson played down the wrong line to Podmore and saw his off stump cartwheeling out of the ground.

After making a quick 20 from 22 balls  Ajaz Patel had a big heave at Rayner and was bowled, leaving Fisher unbeaten on 47.  Kent didn’t enforce the follow on and Milnes said: “We want to bowl last on that wicket and it gives Rayner his best chance of getting wickets.  The pitch flattens out as the day goes on so tomorrow we’ve got to get through the first hour, bat normally and when the pitch flattens out we’ll up the run rate.”

Kohler-Cadmore said: “It’s frustrating the position we’re in. People have tried to dig in and put value on their wickets, but I felt like they’ve bowled nicely.  No batsman has scored a fifty. Fisher played nicely , but there’s been me, Brook, Bresnan all scoring 30s and Tattersall 20-odd. In those positions, we need to be kicking on. 

Yesterday we were so far behind and away from our best. They played nicely. Sam Billings, I thought, played a proper four-day knock. He left the ball beautifully. Stevens just took the game away from us. Today, it’s been how you’d expect a day to go. But the fact they got 480 in a day has put us massively under pressure. Had they been 250, which is what you’d think was the best they could hope for from 39 for five, it would be an even game. 

All day long, it’s had a bit in the surface. It’s been a solid day of cricket where both teams have battled hard. We’re in the position we’re in, and we have to put value on our wickets when we bat again.”

After the first day Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale said: “The first half hour was very good, but from then on in it was poor – very poor. Fair play to Stevens he played well. We just bowled both sides at him and couldn’t create any pressure. We know what works at Headingley, top of off-stump for long periods of time. We just couldn’t do that. The energy in the field was also poor, dropped catches in mid-afternoon. We’re lucky they haven’t got 700 on the board at the end of play there. That was well, well below par from the standards we set ourselves. 

“We’ve got to come back in the morning, bowl them out and bat well. It’s as simple as that. Olivier bowled nicely early on. To have them 39 for five after they elected to bat, you’re thinking, ‘Can we bowl them out for under 150 and kill the game early on?’ That was what we didn’t manage to do last week (at Somerset).  From 11am onwards, we haven’t managed to build any pressure.”

Day 3

YORKSHIRE are on the verge of their heaviest defeat in the County Championship needing another 507 runs with four wickets left on the final day.

Kent skipper Sam Billings became the first player to hit two championship centuries in the same match at Emerald Headingley.  He joins West Indian Shai Hope who did the feat in the Test match a couple of years ago. In that match Hope hit 147 and unbeaten 118, Billings hit an unbeaten 122 to go with his 138 in Kent’s first innings.

When told that Billings was speechless and said: “Wow, I didn’t know that. It’s amazing. It’s just enjoyable to spend some time in the middle. It’s been a disappointing summer for me missing the World Cup and the English summer of cricket getting injured in the Indian Premier League so I’ve tried to make up for lost time. The red ball game can be more brutal than the white ball game.” 

It’s strange that I get two centuries in the match and I am going to be overshadowed by Darren Stevens.”

He reached the landmark in the first over after tea when he lofted AjazPatel over extra cover for a couple.  His second ton of the match came from 148 balls and included 10 fours and a six. Billings came into bat at the fall of South African captain Faf  Du Plessis who after driving Steven Patterson to the extra cover boundary tried to drive the Yorkshire skipper straight but got a thick outside edge and the ball flew to Tom Kohler-Cadmore at slip.

Billings got off the mark with a straight drive to the boundary off Patterson.  The Yorkshire captain then brought on Patel and Adam Lyth much to the liking of both Billings and Oliver Robinson as they milked the pair.  Robinson reached his fifty which came from 71 balls in the last over before lunch.

The Kent skipper went down the wicket to Patel and sliced him over point to the boundary to take Kent’s lead over 400.  He went down the wicket to him the next ball and and drilled him over extra cover for a six to bring up his fifty from 80 balls.

Showing the class of an England batsman Billings hit consecutive boundaries off Duanne Olivier.  The first was straight, the second was clipped off his legs and reached the boundary thanks to a misfield on the boundary edge. Billings added: “I am just loving playing cricket and if the moment comes to play for England I would jump at it. I don’t want to be branded as a white ball specialist, I am more than that, I still want to keep wicket but I also pride myself on my fielding. I have just got to believe in myself that I am not just a white ball cricketer.”

Resuming on two without loss Kent lost their first wicket in the fourth over of the morning when Daniel Bell-Drummond left one from Matthew Fisher and lost his off stump.  After cracking a couple of straight fours off Fisher and Olivier Zak Crawley was leg before to Fisher in his next over.

Du Plessis got off a pair with a Chinese cut that raced to the boundary.  His partnership with Robinson took its time to get going as they surveyed the scene and patiently blocked the Yorkshire bowlers.  Both batsmen took their turn at outscoring the other but a beautiful straight drive to the boundary by Du Plessis off Patterson which missed the stumps by millimetres took the Kent lead beyond 300.

Robinson fell three short off his second championship century of the season against Yorkshire when he edged Olivier to Johnny Tattersall.

Heino Kuhn dug out a yorker from Olivier and was called through for a single by Billings. Kuhn wasn’t sure where the ball had gone and slow to set off. The two batsmen nearly collided but Kuhn just failed to beat Tattersall’s direct hit.

Ollie Rayner became the second run out victim of the Kent innings when after surviving a leg before appeal set for a single as the ball shot out to cover.  Gary Ballance wanted to the throw at the stumper’s end but changed his mind and threw at the bowler’s end. His throw knocked out middle stump.

Stevens tried to smash Patel for a six over long on but holed out to Kohler-Cadmore on the boundary edge.

Yorkshire lost their first second innings wicket in the second over when Matthew Revis was plumb leg before to Stevens playing across a straight ball.  Stevens got his second wicket in his next over when Lyth offered no shot and was plumb leg before. Ballance was on two when he pushed at one that Stevens angled across him, edged it to Du Plessis at second slip who took an easy catch.

Yorkshire lost three wickets on 43 in 12 balls.  Harry Brook fended off a short ball and Kuhn at first slip took a juggling catch at the third attempt.  Stevens got his fourth wicket when Kohler-Cadmor e sliced a drive and Rayner at gully took a great catch leaping to his right.  Patterson backed away from Matt Milnes and edged him to Crawley at third slip who took a brilliant one handed catch moving to his right.

Billings added: “We delayed the declaration because we wanted to have 20 overs at them tonight and then in the morning when the ball is relatively still new.  We were hoping to get two or three wickets tonight. It’s great to be part of this team. A lot of people said we would go straight down but it’s a fantastic statement and we want to move forward as a club.”

Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale said: “To be honest we haven’t performed well since the first 10 overs. We have been below par and I pride myself on my team showing character and they haven’t. That’s what disappoints me the most.

Billings has impressed me and has showed us how to bat on that pitch.  He played maturely and England are short of guys who can occupy the crease and he has shown that he can do that.”

Day 4

KENT beat Yorkshire by 433 runs their largest victory by runs in the Specsavers County Championship beating the 429 that they beat Northamptonshire by at Dover in1933 and for Yorkshire it was their largest defeat by runs.

Coach Matthew Walker said: “Apart from the first hour of the match we’ve been pretty good.  The partnership between Darren Stevens and Sam Billings rescued our innings and to end the first day on 482 was unusual but they were fantastic.  Stevens just played the way he does see ball and hit ball, he had an expansive game but we still had to take 20 wickets.  

All our bowlers stuck to their jobs and they got more out of the pitch than the Yorkshire bowlers did.  We fielded well and caught all our catches in the second innings. I am proud of the group of lads, to come here and  beat a good Yorkshire side.

Billings has had a tough summer.  He’s been injured and been around different squads but I believe he can play Test cricket.  He’s got the technique and ability to play Test cricket. I believe that the White ball game has dominated his game. He has made the most of his ability, he has grown up as a batter and is now getting the rewards he deserves which is brilliant for his confidence.

This season our players have learned quickly and took up the challenge.  They have learnt from their mistakes and put them right. We go into the final game with a chance to finish third, that is a good statement for this group of lads. They have worked hard hard to put us in that position but Hampshire are a very good side.”

Yorkshire captain Steven Patterson said: “It’s very disappointing after that first hour, after that we went downhill.   Before the game we felt we had a good chance of winning. As the captain it makes it hard to take but I’ve got to take full responsibility. Nine or 10 of the players were below of what they are capable off and when you get that it’s hard. But we were outplayed by a good side.

Next week it’s very important that we beat Warwickshire because I don’t want to finish the season off with three defeats in a row.  We need to find a way to perform better. If we carry on performing like that we are not going to win many games.

Stevens took the game from us. I don’t think he will play any better knocks than that. He was aggressive from early on and in the afternoon him and Billings took the game away from us.  After that we didn’t stand a chance. They batted well but we didn’t make it difficult for them.”

Yorkshire lost their first wicket of the day in the second over.  Stevens got his fifth wicket of the innings and his 50th Specsavers County Championship wicket of the season with his fifth ball of the day when Tim Bresnan edged a drive off him.  It’s his fifth five wicket haul of the season.

Stevens became the second oldest player to score a double century in the match and take five wickets in an innings of the same match, the oldest is W.G. Grace who did it in 1895.

Matthew Fisher blunted the Kent attack for 73 minutes and added 35 in 27 overs with Johnny Tattersall. Stumper Oliver Robinson took his second catch of the innings when Fisher was opened up by Harry Podmore and edged him. Robinson took a low  one handed catch diving to his right.

Duanne Olivier hit his highest score for Yorkshire 24, beating the 21 he made also against Kent earlier in the season, before he lost his middle stump to Daniel  Bell-Drummond when he was bowled through the gate.

The match was over two balls later when Tattersall, who top scored with 41, pushed forward at Bell-Drummond and edged him to Faf Du Plessis at second slip.

September 17, 2019 6:59 pm

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