Having enjoyed watching the Kent batsmen in action against Essex it seemed too good an opportunity to miss when I spotted the Kent v Surrey fixture on a day standing empty in my diary. I booked my ticket without noticing the game was taking place in Tunbridge Wells. Although Kent sits next to the County I’ve lived in most of my life I wasn’t totally sure where that was, but I thought it was closer to home than Canterbury. But I did know it was a beautiful part of the county.
I met a friend for lunch before the match, in a very nice Pub/Inn The Camden Arms in Pembury and had a very tasty home made Fish Pie. One of the problems with all the gallivanting I do is that fitting in meals can be a problem, I think that was my first ‘proper’ meal all week!
We drove to the ground together, taking a short cut, on roads that wouldn’t have been out of place in Devon or Cornwall, which is pretty amazing considering how close we were to London. The Nevill Ground – home to Tunbridge Wells Cricket Club has to be one of the most picturesque in England. The club has been hosting Kent Cricket since 1902 – they play a 4 day County Championship game against Sussex as part of this years’ festival. I’m going along for a day and know the backdrop will be perfect for photos of cricketers in whites!
I sat in the front row of the Pavilion, coincidentally next to a group of people I’d sat next to in Canterbury last year, they were very good company throughout the match. The group took advantage of the Thai Food I’ve heard a lot about, I have to say it looked delicious! Worth a try next time I go to a Kent T20.
We watched the teams warm up, largely by playing football, Surrey players always prefer that way to get ready for a match and Kent had a kick around too. Gareth Batty won the toss and elected to bat.
I wondered about the sense of sitting in the front row in a small ground when Jason Roy and Aaron Finch walked in to open the batting, both are very big hitters! I’d seen Roy make his century at Edgbaston for England and was looking forward to seeing him flash his bat; he most certainly did that as he had the majority of the ball, he hit 4 huge sixes (in the opposite direction I’m relieved to say, a screaming female wouldn’t have been good!) and 5 fours making 52 in the 29 balls he faced.
Some of those big hits were from the bowling of Kagiso Rabada, but it was a catch from Rabada from the bowling of Kent stalwart Darren Stevens that despatched Roy. He seemed disappointed with himself as he left the field, but nowhere near as disappointed as his partner Finch who also fell to a Rabada catch from the bowling of David Griffiths – he’d faced only 9 balls, making a mere 7 runs. I’m not so sure the F word being yelled at the top of his voice with so many children around was the best reaction to his dismissal however!
Surrey had gone from 62 for no wicket to 64 for 2 in a matter of moments. Tom Curran and Steve Davies ( a late change) were at the crease. Both young Curran brothers are handy with the bat as well as the ball and this pair put on a useful 32 runs before another long term Kent man, James Tredwell caught Curran out, bowling him on 12 to the delight of the majority of the crowd. Surrey were 98 for 3.
Tredwell came up with the goods 10 runs later, bowling Davies, who’d scored 23 – Surrey were 108 for 4 with 11 overs gone. Advantage seemed to be shifting to Kent.
Dominic Sibley became Tredwell’s 3rd ‘victim’ as captain Sam Billings stumped him when he’d made 14, 124 for 5 for Surrey. Burns was next to fall to a ball from Rabada, he was bowled for 10. Now in the position where they felt the need to chase runs the next wicket fell to a run out as Adam Ball threw the ball at the stumps, Chris Morris was out having made a useful 25. Surrey were on 154 for 7 after 17.2 overs.
James Tredwell finished his 4 overs with 3 for 32, non too shoddy! Surrey finished their innings with 180 on the board, with Sam Curran being bowled by Mitch Claydon for 19. with the Kent batting line up it felt like a highly gettable total.
I decided a cup of tea was in order while the teams swapped over, that meant I was in a queue when Kent’s first wicket fell, Joe Denly was bowled by Sam Curran giving him a first ball Duck.
I returned with hot chocolate and 10 mini donuts – not quite a cuppa – but it seemed rude not to! It’s amazing how quickly warm donuts can disappear! Not good for the waistline, but delicious!
I commented to my neighbour that the 2 batsmen in situ could well get the runs needed – Daniel Bell-Drummond had opened and captain Sam Northeast had joined him. Bell-Drummond ha returned after breaking a small bone in his hand – and wow, he was in top form. A wonderful sight to behold, unless you were a Surrey player!
He and Northeast made 151 before Northeast was caught behind by Davies from the bowling of Zafar Ansari – he’d made 57 himself hitting 2 sixes and 4 fours. Kent were on 152 for 2 and i a very strong position.
Sam Billings another man who’s very handy with a bat joined Bell Drummond who was approaching his century. I’v seen Billings bat before, but I’m not sure I realised how quickly he moves between the wickets. There were a few hairy moments as quick runs were taken, with the odd dive needed by Bell Drummond.
Bell Drummond reached his century, leaping in the air in delight as he did so. He scored 112 runs from the 65 balls he faced, with a solitary six and 14 Fours. The 181 runs needed was made with a couple of balls to spare and Kent had a very valuable win. They move up to 3rd in the table with 12 games played. I have Finals Day tickets and would love to see them there, along with Essex of course.
My journey home according to my Satnav should have taken around 90 minutes, a diversion due to he A21 being closed added an hour to that, but the journey was well worth it! I learnt something about road diversions too, it seems that if an A road is closed the diversion has to suit lorries, therefore a switch to Google Maps may have been a better plan! Hopefully the journey will be better on Monday!