Sunday, September 5th, 2021


Club Captain Joe Leach led by example with bat and ball, and Dillon Pennington picked up three wickets, but Worcestershire encountered a challenging opening day to their LV=Insurance County Championship meeting with Kent at Canterbury.

Leach, with an aggressive 38, and Ben Cox (41 not out) were the chief contributors and led a partial recovery as Worcestershire were dismissed for 133.

Pennington and Leach then both delivered superb spells with the new ball to reduce Kent to 22-3, and were the pick of the Worcestershire bowlers throughout the innings.

Pennington finished with 3-39, and Leach deserved a greater reward for several probing spells which brought him figures of figures of 15-6-23-1.

But as conditions eased, Kent gradually gained the upper hand with veteran Darren Stevens and Jack Leaning hitting contrasting half centuries as they closed on 184-4.

Worcestershire were put into bat and came up against an inspired opening burst from Kent paceman Matt Milnes.

Daryl Mitchell (4) leg glanced Milnes for four, but in the same over edged to Jordan Cox low at first slip.

The prolific Jake Libby (2) experienced a rare failure when he lost his off stump to Milnes, and then Tom Fell (3) was caught down the legside by keeper Ollie Robinson.

Milnes collected his fourth wicket in an opening spell of 7-2-18-4when Brett D’Oliveira (1) went back to a ball of fullish length and was lbw

Jack Haynes (8) had his off stump knocked back by Nathan Gilchrist before resistance came from the middle order trio of Ed Barnard, Cox and Leach.

Barnard looked full of positive intent and a leg glance for four by Cox off Gilchrist brought up the 50 in the 22nd over.

After making 25 from only 38 balls, Barnard nibbled at a delivery from Darren Stevens and was caught behind.

But Cox and Leach put together the most productive stand of the innings in adding 65 in only 12.4 overs.

Leach hit some superb shots through the covers and also steered a couple of boundaries to third man while Cox also looked to keep the scorecard ticking along.

Milnes was awarded his county cap by Kent during the lunch interval but when he returned to the attack, Leach cover-drove him for four to bring up the 50 partnership.

The pair were going along nicely and had lifted the total to 119-6 but then Gilchrist began to have an impact with the ball.

Leach (38 off 36 balls with seven fours) was bowled by Gilchrist who then accounted for Josh Baker (0) in the same manner after he had played no shot.

Pennington (3) was lbw to a ball angled in by Gilchrist and he completed a five-for when Adam Finch was bowled for two.

Cox had flicked Milnes over square leg for six before the innings came to an end and he remained unbeaten on 41 from 72 balls.

Pennington was soon amongst the wickets when Kent launched their reply with two in his first three overs to reduce Kent to 10-2.

Zak Crawley (5) attempted to drive the former England Under-19 paceman down the ground and edged through to keeper Cox.

Pennington then picked up the scalp of Jordan Cox (2) who flicked the ball straight into the hands of Baker at backward square.

Leach also asked plenty of questions and was rewarded when he beat the forward prod of Joe Denly (9) who was lbw at 22-3 in the 11th over.

The new ball pair had combined figures of 12-4-19-3 from their opening spells but Ollie Robinson and Jack Leaning then quickened the scoring rate.

Robinson completed a 61 ball half century shortly after tea but the return of Pennington brought about his downfall and the end of a 75 run partnership with Leaning.

He drove at a delivery outside the off stump and Cox snaffled the chance away to his right.

Kent were then 97-4 – still 36 in arrears – but Stevens played aggressively from the outset and scored 39 of a 50 partnership in 69 balls with Leaning.

The 45-year-old completed a 47 ball half century and Leaning brought up his fifty from 147 deliveries.