County Championship: Kent earn sizeable first-innings lead at Lancashire

Jack Leaning
Jack Leaning hit eight fours in his 90
LV= County Championship Division One, Emirates Old Trafford (day two):
Lancashire 145: Wells 35; Henry 5-45 & 2-0
Kent 270: Leaning 90, Stewart 64*; Bailey 6-64
Lancashire (3 pts) trail Kent (5 pts) by 123 runs

Lancashire’s County Championship title hopes took a dent after a frenetic day at Old Trafford in which 16 wickets fell.

New Zealand’s Matt Henry took five wickets in an inspired morning spell as Lancashire went from 112-4 to 145 all out.

Kent soon fell to 12-3 in reply, but valuable half centuries from Joe Denly (59) and Jack Leaning (90) took them into the lead.

Grant Stewart then hit 64 not out as they were all out for 270, despite Tom Bailey’s 6-64 for the Red Rose, who closed on 2-0 in their second innings.

Kent had lost captain and wicketkeeper Sam Billings to Covid before play with replacement Ollie Robinson travelling up on a train to take his place, but under muggy grey skies, Henry ripped through the Lancashire middle and lower order.

The Kiwi quick bowled Washington Sundar for six as the India all-rounder offered no stroke from the second ball of the day and had George Lavelle lbw off the fourth.

The pick of Henry’s wickets was when Bailey’s off-stump was shattered by a beauty which pitched and moved away and when Luke Wood holed out for 18, Henry had claimed 5-15 as he eventually finished with 5-46 with Lancashire bowled out in under an hour.

Things did not get any easier for Kent, though as Ben Compton and Daniel Bell-Drummond fell quickly as they slipped to 5-2.

Then when Zak Crawley chipped Bailey to mid-wicket for a 27-ball duck, they were struggling at 12-3.

For Crawley, it was a tortured innings against the new ball of Bailey and Will Williams and the England batter remains without a half-century in 13 red-ball innings stretching back to the end of May.

But Denly and Leaning put on a vital 106 for the fourth wicket as they defended well against the seamers before lunch and attacked the spinners after.

Yet when Denly fell just before tea after an excellent knock and Jordan Cox and Robinson were removed by Bailey in the first over after the interval, it was game on at 120-6.

However, Stewart put on 102 with Leaning as they accelerated the scoring rate and took the game away from Lancashire.

Leaning had survived dropped catches in the slips on seven and 48, before eventually falling 10 short of his century.

But Stewart continued as his eight fours and a six powered Kent to what could be a decisive first-innings advantage of 125, despite Bailey’s efforts with the 11th five-wicket haul of career.

Lancashire overturned a deficit of 103 runs on first innings to win at Northants last week, but they will need a strong batting performance on day three to stand any chance of that and keeping pace with Surrey and Hampshire in the title race.


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