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Harmison punishes Gloucestershire again

Ben Harmison scored his second hundred of the season against Gloucestershire and Darren Stevens hit an unbeaten 98 as Kent recovered from a poor start to dominate the opening day of their latest LV= Championship Division Two clash.

Having slumped to 46 for three after winning the toss and electing to bat, Kent closed on 334 for six in front of a 2,500 crowd for the opening day of the 162nd Canterbury Cricket Week.

The early blows were all landed by the Gloucestershire new-ball attack, who struck in the first over as Sam Northeast pushed half-forward to Will Gidman’s sixth delivery only to see it dart back off the seam and peg back middle stump.

Eight overs later Daniel Bell-Drummond jumped back in defence to an inswinger from left-arm seamer David Payne and was trapped lbw to make it 20 for two.

Brendan Nash, who hit an unbeaten 199 before retiring ill in the corresponding game at Cheltenham earlier in the summer, reached 14 before he played too soon on a pull shot against Liam Norwell and dragged the ball onto leg stump.

Having lunched on 72 for three, Kent's middle order batted with determination thereafter on a pitch that offered some assistance to the seamers operating from the Nackington Road End.

Rob Key posted his third fifty of the campaign from 118 balls, but soon after pushed in defence at medium-pacer Benny Howell to be caught behind.

After surviving three huge appeals early in his innings, Harmison dug in with Stevens to add 133 for Kent's fifth wicket in a shade over 30 overs.

Both men started to time the ball sweetly as they grew accustomed to the pace of the pitch and, for the first time in the day, the visiting attack was made to look ordinary.

Harmison, the former Durham all-rounder, drove well between mid-on and mid-off to move to his second ton for Kent from 181 balls with 15 fours.

However, the tall left-hander then nibbled at one outside off stump from Norwell to be caught behind and bring in former England wicketkeeper Geraint Jones.

Stevens and Jones duly counter-attacked to add 69 in 15 overs for the sixth wicket but the most attractive batting of the day ended five overs from the close when Jones edged a full-blown drive through to the wicketkeeper.

Stevens, Kent's player of the season, was only two short of his third century of the championship season and had hit 17 fours when stumps were drawn.

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