Buoyant Middlesex take charge
Middlesex did their LV= County Championship promotion cause the world of good by dismissing Kent for 242 on day one of their Division Two match at Canterbury.
When bad light ended play early with 18 overs of the day still remaining, the visitors had reached 55 without loss in reply with Scott Newman unbeaten on 16 and Sam Robson 37.
Having elected to bat first, in what transpired to be the brightest conditions of the day, Kent made a watchful start through openers Rob Key and Joe Denly.
Against a seaming ball, the pair mustered 24 runs and only four fours in the opening hour in the face of a stern examination from Corey Collymore, Tim Murtagh and Steven Crook, the nominated player to stand aside should Steven Finn be released from the England squad tomorrow.
Crook found the outside edge three times only to see the ball fall short of the slip cordon, leaving Collymore to make the first breakthrough by having Key caught low at slip by Dawid Malan for 17 as he aimed a back-foot force through the off side.
Sam Northeast nicked another fine delivery from Crook into the gloves of wicketkeeper John Simpson not long after, and Martin van Jaarsveld fell in identical fashion moments later as the Kent innings began to unravel.
Having looked sound in reaching a 84-ball half-century, Denly’s two-hour stay ended when Murtagh trapped him leg before prodding forward, bringing together Darren Stevens and Geraint Jones for a bright fifth-wicket riposte.
With both batsmen going for their strokes, Kent added 45 in 9.2 overs before Collymore returned to have Jones lbw on his way to figures of 4-69.
Azhar Mahmood fenced Collymore’s next ball toward mid-on and looked vaguely interested in a single, but Stevens refused. Collymore threw down the stumps at the striker’s end as Azhar dithered and belatedly tried to ground his bat.
Stevens’ cameo 27 ended when he chopped on against former team-mate Neil Dexter, then Collymore had Adam Ball snaffled at second slip.
It took a bright stand of 57 for the ninth wicket - the second highest of the innings - between Matt Coles and James Tredwell to take Kent through to 200 and their sole batting point.
Tredwell’s fun ended when he dragged one from Collymore on to middle stump to depart for 31, before Coles, having made 41, pulled Murtagh to Jamie Dalrymple at deep midwicket.