Derbyshire overcome obdurate Denly
Derbyshire boosted their hopes of a top-four finish in LV= County Championship Division Two with a 101-run win over Kent, despite another impressive innings from Joe Denly.
The opener followed his first-innings 199 with 68, but his dismissal prompted a collapse which saw the visitors slump to 196 all out, well short of their target of 298.
Jonathan Clare took 4-36, including the key wicket of Denly, to inflict much of the damage, while off-spinner Wes Durston claimed a career-best 4-45 as Derbyshire wrapped up a maximum points victory an hour into the afternoon session.
The game had been in the balance at the start of the fourth day with Kent nought for one after nightwatchman Adam Riley was dismissed with the second ball of the innings the previous evening.
But with top batsmen Rob Key and Martin van Jaarsveld not playing, much depended on Denly and the early signs were promising as he and Daniel Bell-Drummond put on 52 before Mark Footitt had the latter caught at point for 20 in the 14th over.
Denly was again driving the ball sweetly and reached his fifty, which contained 10 fours, off 49 balls. Aided by Sam Northeast, he took the score to 100 before Kent’s advance started to falter.
Northeast had come close to being bowled by Durston before he tried a cut two balls later and got a thick edge into his stumps and by lunch Derbyshire were well in control.
Clare claimed the crucial wicket of Denly as he beat the right hander’s defensive push and wicketkeeper Luke Sutton, who had dropped the batsman on 33 in the first innings, this time made no mistake.
The same combination struck again with the last ball of the morning when Clare surprised Alex Blake with a ball that lifted to leave Kent wobbling on 127 for five, still 171 runs from victory.
With Darren Stevens looking dangerous and Azhar Mahmood plus Geraint Jones to come they still had a chance, but three wickets in seven overs after lunch put paid to their hopes.
Azhar batted carefully for his 97 in the first innings, but this time the veteran all-rounder went for a big drive off Clare and was well caught at second slip for nine.
Jones quickly followed when he tried to hit Durston over the top and holed out to mid-on.
Stevens was Kent’s last recognised batsman and reached a defiant fifty, which included a six off Durston, from 54 balls, but when he tried to clear the ropes again he was caught at deep midwicket.
And Derbyshire’s player of the season Durston fittingly had the last word in their final home game when he bowled Matt Coles, with Kent’s misery compounded by being docked a point for a slow over rate.