Durston helps Derbyshire dominate
Wes Durston enjoyed another memorable day in the best season of his career as Derbyshire dominated the opening day of the LV= County Championship match against Kent.
Durston raced to his third century of the summer from only 101 balls and had reached 118 by the time he fell to David Balcombe, who produced an inspired spell of four for four in 24 balls after tea.
Opener Matt Lineker scored 71 in his second championship game and shared a third-wicket stand of 176 in 33 overs with Durston after Kent had put the hosts in at Derby.
The Kent bowlers failed to deliver until Balcombe roared in at the start of the final session, although an unbroken stand of 141 between Ross Whiteley, who reached 71, and Jonathan Clare, who was 76 at the close, meant Derbyshire ended the day in a strong position on 405 for six.
Kent might have expected to hold the upper hand when their bowlers got first use of a green-tinged pitch after heavy overnight rain delayed the start by 45 minutes.
Both sides were missing key players but Derbyshire’s inexperienced opening pair of Lineker and Paul Borrington survived 13 overs before Azhar Mahmood struck.
Borrington, in for the injured New Zealand Test batsman Martin Guptill, fell across a full-length ball and was lbw for eight, but Lineker played patiently through the morning session.
The 26-year-old left-hander is trying to earn a contract and made a strong case by showing sound judgement and good technique by batting for nearly four hours.
After Wayne Madsen was lbw moving forward to Darren Stevens, Durston and Lineker plundered a Kent attack which looked distinctly ordinary without Simon Cook and James Tredwell.
There were too many loose balls for the batsmen to put away and Lineker celebrated his maiden first-class half-century when he clipped Balcombe through midwicket for his 10th four.
Durston has made 1,000 runs in a season for the first time this year and raced to another hundred, which included 18 fours and a swept six off Adam Riley, in the penultimate over before tea.
His second fifty had come off only 31 balls but Balcombe halted Derbyshire’s progress when Lineker edged a drive to second slip and Durston was caught behind by a diving Geraint Jones.
With Dan Redfern edging a pull down the leg side and Luke Sutton falling to a lifter, Kent were back in it, but Whiteley and Clare regained the initiative with some blazing strokes.
They passed Derbyshire’s record seventh-wicket stand against Kent of 105, dating back to 1926, and rattled along at seven an over to secure maximum batting points before bad light spared Kent from further punishment.