Stevens in seventh heaven
Darren Stevens claimed career-best figures of 7-21 as Kent moved into a strong position on the second day of their LV= County Championship match with Surrey at Canterbury.
Stevens’ haul helped Kent dismiss the visitors for a paltry 127 inside 44 overs and secure a surprise first-innings lead of 139, only for the hosts to then lose six wickets of their own during a chilly final session which lasted 45.4 overs.
Kent went in at stumps on 167 for six and holding an overall advantage of 306 at the midway point of the game.
The hosts had captain Robert Key to thank for their position of strength - his watchful, unbeaten 70 is the only half-century to date in this Division Two tussle.
Having been completely outmanoeuvred on day one, Kent’s seam attack led their side's worthy fightback by making the most of a cross wind and a thickening bank of late morning cloud cover.
Once the sunshine disappeared, Pakistan paceman Wahab Riaz formed a dangerous partnership with swing bowler Stevens that saw Surrey slip from 54 without loss to 127 all out.
Their capitulation started with the loss of five wickets for 10 runs in the space of 37 deliveries in the face of some excellent bowling, particularly by Stevens.
He started the rout by having Steven Davies caught low at second slip for 23 by Martin van Jaarsveld.
In the next over Mark Ramprakash attempted to get off the mark with a risky single off Riaz, only for Joe Denly to swoop in from cover point and run out Rory Hamilton-Brown for 34 with a direct hit at the striker’s end.
One run later Zander de Bruyn followed a Stevens delivery to guide a simple catch to Key in the gully and depart for one.
Then, without troubling the scorers, Ramprakash nicked a lifting away-swinger to keeper Geraint Jones to give Stevens a third, highly-prized scalp.
Surrey’s demise gathered momentum when Jason Roy also went without scoring after spooning a simple cut off Riaz to Denly at cover point.
A short but heavy shower led to a 30-minute interruption and an early lunch, yet Surrey were still unable to stave off their collapse come the resumption.
Tom Maynard’s hesitant shuffle at a Stevens’ off-cutter saw him perish leg before wicket for 16 and though Gareth Batty and Zafar Ansari both limped into the 20s, Kent - and Stevens in particular - were unstoppable.
Ansari holed out in the deep off Adam Ball, leaving Stevens to mop up the tail.
He trapped former team-mate Yasir Arafat leg before wicket and had both Tim Linley and Jade Dernbach well held low at third slip by Matt Coles.
Further showers led to the loss of five overs after tea and the break in concentration led to the demise of Denly, caught on the crease and leg before to Linley’s second ball after the resumption.
Linley had Sam Northeast caught behind and returned for a third stint to snare Jones lbw, despite the hint of an inside edge, for a plucky 22.
However, there were no mitigating circumstances for Stevens, van Jaarsveld and James Tredwell, who all fell to ill-advised shots late in the day.