Early collapse costs Kent dear
Ian Bell’s fourth Clydesdale Bank 40 half-century of the season maintained Warwickshire’s 100% record with a convincing six-wicket victory over Kent at Edgbaston.
The England batsman contributed a stylish 55 from 71 balls before the Group C leaders - unbeaten in 40-over cricket since August 2008 - wrapped up their fifth straight win in the competition.
The margin would have been greater but for a substantial Kent recovery after 6ft 8in pace bowler Boyd Rankin had taken three wickets in five balls in their collapse to 73 for seven after 19 overs.
Skipper Rob Key survived to reach 87 from 98 deliveries and eventually found substantial support when Rob Ferley made 52, his highest score in all forms of county cricket with Kent and Nottinghamshire.
Their partnership of 94 in 17 overs lifted the Spitfires to a more respectable 192 for nine, but it was nowhere near enough to stretch Warwickshire.
Bell put on 68 with Jim Troughton and even when he was run out, going for a single after Darren Maddy played the ball to point, the untroubled home side finished the job with five overs to spare.
Maddy, adding an unbeaten 43 to his bowling return of 2-31, and Ian Westwood knocked off the last 65 runs from 45 balls.
Kent struggled from the outset as Warwickshire’s frontline seamers wobbled the new ball around in favourable bowling conditions.
Key and Joe Denly played and missed as Neil Carter and Chris Woakes opened up with successive maidens. The slide set in as soon as Denly guided a ball from Carter to Troughton at backward point.
Woakes, warming up for England Lions duty against Bangladesh this week, had Martin van Jaarsveld taken at slip and Kent’s middle order caved in with Rankin’s intervention in a dramatic second over.
The Irishman’s bounce and movement accounted for Geraint Jones and Darren Stevens, both caught behind by Tim Ambrose, and young left-hander Alex Blake edged to Maddy at second slip.
Ambrose took a third catch as Woakes removed Azhar Mahmood in a spell of 2-29 and Simon Cook holed out to deep square-leg off Rankin.
The Bears’ charge was held up as Ferley, playing his first county match of the season, dug in with Key and gradually built the momentum to launch a sustained counter-attack.
Key hit 10 fours before falling at extra cover, the first of two wickets for Maddy. The former Leicestershire all-rounder bowled Ferley with the next delivery after he reached 50 with a reverse-sweep.