Kent v Gloucestershire

NatWest T20 Blast - 18 july 2017
Gloucestershire beat Kent by 8 runs

Venue: St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury

Gloucestershire extended their unbeaten start to the Nat West T20 Blast campaign with a nerve jangling victory by 8 runs over Kent at the St Lawrence Ground.

Put into bat, they made 138-9 in their 20 overs, with Ian Cockbain top scoring with 40. It appeared a modest total to defend but some excellent out cricket, tactically steered by Klinger – who also took three catches – was enough to regularly peg back Kent’s pursuit of their victory target and in the end secure a first win at Canterbury in white ball cricket since 2003 as Kent were all out off the last ball for 130.

Watch Benny Howell’s post match reaction here :

This was a match that proved that not all T20 cricket needs to be about high scores to generate excitement. True, the sixes were few and far between – there were only seven across the 40 overs – but the tension started to grow from the mid point in Kent’s reply when three wickets went down in seven balls.

Kent captain Sam Northeast decided to field first when he won the toss, and the inclusion of both Tredwell and Qayyum indicated the impact spin might have on the game. Gloucestershire were unchanged, and the tone for an evening of some outstanding catches was set when Bell-Drummond retreated at point to hold a one handed effort that accounted for Mustard (9) off Neesham in the third over.

Klinger had seemed to settle quickly but judgement of the pace in the pitch – or the lack of it – outdid the Gloucestershire captain, and he wasn’t the last to fall into that category. He collected three boundaries and a six in relative comfort and then drove Mitchell Claydon’s first ball to Stevens at mid off. He had made 25, but it was a scored bettered by only two men in the match, both in the Gloucestershire side.

Benny Howell’s cameo of 26 from 16 deliveries wasn’t his prettiest innings, but it did provide a little late boost to the run rate, and his one scoop for four over ‘keeper Billings was by some distance the most inventive stroke. He was also one of three players run out in the final over as Gloucestershire scrambled what they could to boost the total.

Earlier Ian Cockbain had looked the player likely to anchor the innings until it’s conclusion. His third wicket stand with George Hankins had spluttered against the Kent spinners, and when Hankins went for 14 Jack Taylor slung Neesham over the mid wicket boundary. The pair had almost seen off Tredwell and Qayyum when the latter teased Cockbain with his final delivery and Northeast took the catch at cover. Cockbain departed for 40, and after Perera perished cheaply Kent averted a late surge of runs and restricted their target to just 139.

It was clear Gloucestershire needed a strong start to have any chance of victory, so David Payne’s opening maiden did no harm, but Joe Denly’s flat batted six to mid wicket off Matt Taylor prompted a rush of runs from the other end, as Bell Drummond struck four successive boundaries in Perera’s first over. The Sri Lankan had the last laugh however, trapping Bell Drummond lbw for 25, and for the rest of the Kent innings Gloucestershire found wickets when they needed them.

The credit for that must go not only to the bowlers, but also the fielders who backed them up under the astute guidance of Klinger, who himself held three catches. Smith and Howell were introduced early and Smith removed the dangerous Joe Denly (18) as he punched a low ball to Cockbain at long off. Northeast had made only 10 when he clipped Howell to Klinger at extra cover, and with little difference in the scores at half distance, the combination of Tom Smith left arm spin and Klinger’s safe hands tipped the game Gloucestershire’s way in two balls.

First Neesham played an ugly stroke to give the Gloucestershire captain a routine catch, and with the batsmen having crossed, Billings forced Smith’s next delivery off the back foot low to Klinger’s right at cover, where a fine low catch was confirmed after consultation with the television umpire.

68 runs were still required from nine overs, and Kent’s need for some common sense in the middle was answered by Darren Stevens. The veteran all rounder added 31 with Alex Blake, only for Benny Howell, in his final over, to break a critical stand by deceiving Stevens (15) with a change of pace and take a comfortable return catch.

At that point, panic appeared to set in amongst the home side. The recalled Payne and Perera may have been swung deep into the outfield by Coles and Blake but Jack Taylor – first at deep mid wicket and then at long off – held two fine catches. The equation was down to 29 runs off 16 balls, and it proved too much for the Kent tail as Gloucestershire completed a narrow and – for the home supporters – unexpected win.