Tuesday, August 2nd, 2022


Kashif Ali scored a memorable century on his List A debut for Worcestershire Rapids. Still, it proved in vain as Kent Spitfires chased down a 352 target in the Royal London Cup match at New Road, thanks to Ollie Robinson’s unbeaten double hundred.

Worcestershire’s total of 351-8 was the highest against Kent in this format of the game, and Kashif helped lead to a remarkable recovery from 36-4.

It was another demonstration of the ability and potential that Kashif has shown – at Seconds and senior level – since linking up with Worcestershire this summer.

He received superb support from Ed Barnard (79) during a partnership of 175, a new fifth-wicket record for Worcestershire against any county in List A cricket, surpassing the 169 by Ben Cox and George Rhodes against Yorkshire at New Road in 2019.

Cox and Joe Leach then ensured Worcestershire would set what appeared to be a formidable target with some explosive hitting.

It was encouraging to see Cox in such fine form on his return to action after taking a break.

But keeper-batter Robinson, who has few opportunities to play white ball cricket for Kent, played a superb knock of 206 not out from 131 balls with six sixes and 27 fours.

It was the highest by a Kent player in List A cricket, and his second wicket stand of 204 with Ben Compton was also a new record for Kent in the format.

Robinson survived one chance on 109, and Worcestershire may reflect that they could have bowled a better line, but full credit also has to go to the batter.

Worcestershire welcomed overseas star Azhar Ali, Club Captain Brett D’Oliveira, and spinner Josh Baker in place of Taylor Cornall, Gareth Roderick and Adam Finch from the side which defeated Herefordshire at Eastnor.

Former Worcestershire pace bowler Matt Henry struck an early treble blow after the home side opted to bat.

Ed Pollock edged the first ball of the innings to second slip, D’Oliveira picked out square leg and Jake Libby was taken at short extra cover in an opening spell by Henry of 6-20-3.

With Azhar lbw working to leg off Grant Stewart, Kent were in the ascendancy before Kashif and Barnard began their rescue act.

Runs flowed rapidly once Henry had been removed from the attack, and it is a testament to Kashif’s rapid elevation that he looks completely at home at this level.

He completed a 49-ball half-century, and then a regal back foot drive square of the wicket off Hamid Qadri took Barnard to that milestone from 56 deliveries.

No one was able to stem the stream of boundaries, and the fifth wicket pair had plundered 175 from 28 overs when Barnard, on 79, fell to a head-high catch at mid-off against Matt Quinn.

It was rich entertainment for members and supporters, and Kashif went on to complete his century with a clip through mid-wicket in the same over.

He had moved onto 114 from 99 balls when he drilled Hamid Qadri to mid-off where Quinn took a fine low catch.

Kashif left the field to a standing ovation in another impressive demonstration of his potential.

But there was no let-up for Kent, with Cox and Leach adding 74 in just 7.5 overs.

Leach lifted Qadri twice over the mid-wicket boundary and straight drove the spinner for successive fours.

He had made 48 off just 28 deliveries when he lofted Quinn to deep mid-wicket, but Cox went onto a 43-ball half-century with two sixes and three fours in a vintage knock.

When Kent batted, left arm seamer, Ben Gibbon, struck an early blow when Joey Evison turned the ball off his hips straight to fine leg.

But then the dominance of bat over ball then resumed after Robinson and Compton came together.

Robinson was in particularly impressive form against seam or spin, and he reached three figures when lofting D’Oliveira for his 13th four in addition to striking three sixes.

The partnership of 204 in 28 overs was Kent’s highest second-wicket partnership against any county in List A cricket.

But it ended when Robinson on 75 pulled D’Oliveira down Barnard’s throat at deep mid-wicket.

There was another breakthrough when Dillon Pennington had Alex Blake caught down the legside, but by then, Robinson and Kent were well on the way to victory.