Recent Match Report – Kent vs Middlesex South Group 2022

canto 192 for 8 (Denley 110, Cox 45, Green 3-29, Anderson 3-32) beat middlesex 137 for 8 runs (Tilt 3-30) by 55 runs

before Joe Denly Set his T20 season at Canterbury to rights in shocking fashion, the nationwide batting average in the Blast didn’t make for a compelling reading. None of the players who scored 100 or more runs in this season’s tournament had scored more slowly.

If Kent’s defense of the T20 crown was going poorly, with defeats in their first five matches, Denly was feeling the pain the most. For a player who made 44 appearances in England’s three formats, a strike rate of 93.60 per 100 balls was not the kind of result he was used to.

He must be feeling much better now. Scored 110 off 58 balls on a gripping, used surface, completely divorced from the difficulties experienced by almost every other batsman in the match, one to hit his way into form and carry on the fight. Concentrated effort, which paid off well. This gave Kent an unlikely net worth of 192 for 8 and an eventual 55-run victory as Middlesex never gave up on an extremely difficult target.

A win out of six isn’t the start of any hunt for a top-four spot, but Kent has a lot of features that have yet to be written off as he’s not at his mid-point. They will look to follow it up against the Essex Eagles in Chelmsford on Tuesday as they start a run of fixtures away from Canterbury.

When the form is lost, and the years go by, the wisdom of the crowd is best avoided – certainly the kind of crowd that types questions into Google. Enter Denly’s name into the search engine and it offered: “People also ask: Has Joe Denly retired?” Ouch, not what you want to hear at 36 when your season has been interrupted by hamstring trouble, you still don’t have a championship race to your name, and you’re wondering if you’ll ever get things down the road.

Recording his fifth blast century, he confidently corrected the ball blazing leg to leg. His 89 runs went over the leg side, which included all six of his sixes and most of his nine fours. He was especially hard on the Sri Lanka-born spinner, Thilan Valalavitha, and debutant seamer, Toby Greatwood, who won a chance against Surrey 2nd after a five-wicket haul earlier in the week. Luke Hallman was also seen getting out in the same over of the scuffle.

“It’s long overdue – both a few runs for me and obviously a win,” Denly said. “It felt really cool. It was nice to go out there and try and play quite freely, try and be as comfortable as possible. I got a couple quick in the middle and just kept going. The other night we never really I bowled a punch against Surrey. Today was just about putting it on my bowlers.”

Jordan Cox is another Kent batsman struggling for encouragement, but he provided able support in Kent’s second wicket record of 157 in 14.3 overs, with Daniel Bell-Drummond getting out lbw on the third ball of the match. Any notion that conditions were easy, the minute Denly departed, Chris Green was slogged at deep midwicket with 18 balls to spare, and Kent lost three more wickets in the deep against Martin Anderson in the space of five balls. Still, when Jack Leaning was run out for 6 in the chase of a second off the final ball of the innings, it must have been quite the pessimist who feared Kent had thrown it.

As it happened, Kent’s spin bowlers proved to be much better. South African George Linde and Qais Ahmed, a young Afghan, bowled enough to suggest that they could be at the center of the Kent challenge now gathering force.

Stephen Eskinazzi threatened briefly before Cass asked him to play for 30; Linde, who occasionally found a marked turn, caught Joe Cracknell at deep midwicket and then caught a deceptively comfortable return catch when Anderson fiercely went back to his right. There were also three wickets for Leaning, as Kent made good use of Sam Billings’ decision to use a poor surface first. Only one batsman came up with it. It was Joe Denly’s day, commented Middlesex coach Richard Johnson.

David Hopes writes for ESPNcricinfo on county cricket @davidkhopps

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