Coles heats up Kent charge
Matt Coles handed Kent the initiative after Gloucestershire’s top order struggled in bowler-friendly conditions on a rain-affected opening day of their LV= County Championship Division Two clash.
Three breaks for rain led to the loss of 42 overs when heavy showers finally halted play for the day at 6pm, with Gloucestershire closing on 131 for six at Canterbury.
Coles, fresh from career-best figures of 6-51 in Kent’s emphatic win against Northamptonshire in the previous round, ended the day with 3-37, while Mark Davies gave accurate support with 2-19 from his 14 overs.
Rob Key’s men made an immediate impact after winning the toss when Charlie Shreck, on his home debut, dismissed Chris Dent with only his second delivery.
Running a delivery back down the slope to the left-hander, Shreck found an inside edge for wicketkeeper Geraint Jones to pull off a low catch moving to his right.
Five overs later another home debutant, former Durham seamer Davies, got in on the act by dismissing Richard Coughtrie for three - leg before wicket with a darting off-cutter which trapped the right-hander on his crease.
Visiting skipper Alex Gidman got a reprieve at third slip when he was on 10, but failed to capitalise when Coles, who replaced Davies at the Nackington Road End, got a delivery to hold its line and give Jones a second catch of the morning behind the stumps.
On the stroke of lunch Coles bagged his second when another nip-back ball snared Hamish Marshall lbw to make it 67 for four at the interval.
Only a dozen balls after the resumption Benny Howell, on Gloucestershire debut having been released by Hampshire at the end of last season, became Coles’ third victim when he too went lbw after scoring an attractive 44 from 74 balls, including six boundaries.
After another delay for rain, Kent struck again when Davies switched to the St Lawrence Pavilion End to send back Ian Cockbain for a battling 32.
Pushing at an off-cutter, the right-hander survived a huge shout for lbw only to be given out caught, as the ball had brushed the inside edge before ballooning off the pad to Coles at gully.
Much to Cockbain’s chagrin, the rain became heavier after one more delivery and subsequently ended play for the day.