Derbyshire travelled to Canterbury knowing a win against 3rd placed Kent would guarantee them promotion to division 1 in the LV County Championship.
The St Lawrence Ground is one of the more picturesque in the county game and with it bathed in bright sunshine, Kent captain Rob Key had no hesitation in electing to bat first when he won the toss.
Derbyshire’s new ball bowlers were extremely economical, with the Kent run rate hovering around the one run per over mark for the first dozen overs. However, it was the unpredictability of paceman Mark Turner that notched Derbyshire’s first success of the day when a rising delivery was glanced down the leg-side into the accepting hands of Tom Poynton. Groenewald quickly got in on the act as well, as he pinned Alex Blake LBW for 1 to leave Kent 34 for 2 after 16 overs.
The Derbyshire quicks were keeping a lid on the run rate with Northeast and West Indian overseas player Brendan Nash happy to let the ball go outside off-stump and rarely affording themselves the luxury of an attacking shot. It wasn’t until the stroke of lunchtime that Northeast played a false stroke and gave Whiteley his wicket for 37, caught smartly by Groenewald in the offside ring leaving Kent 61/3 at the interval.
The resumption saw the metronomic Groenewald paired with the incalculable Turner and it was Groenewald who repeated his dismissal of Blake by trapping Nash LBW for 17 and putting Madsen’s men in the ascendancy with Kent 73/4. Powell began to unfurl some of his trademark cover drives in progressing the score to 93, before Palladino struck, finding Darren Stevens's edge to take his first of the innings and Derbyshire’s fifth.
However, one of Kent’s great strengths is quality batsmen deep into their order and Derbyshire would have been concerned with Geraint Jones walking out to bat at number 7. In partnership with Michael Powell the two decided to counter-attack and they took the score up to 139, before another soft dismissal from the bowling of Whiteley cost Powell his wicket for 37.
Jones seemed impervious to the carnage at the other end and was showing exactly what earned him 1172 test match runs, playing the spin of Wainwright and Durston with aplomb. He found a willing accomplice in Matt Coles, the two taking the score to 193/6 at the tea interval.
Madsen and Krikken would have wanted an immediate response from the bowling unit, and they got it, with Durston coaxing an edge from Coles that Khawaja took smartly at first slip to dismiss the all rounder for 24 and provide Durston with his 50th first class wicket.
With the ball getting older and the pitch remaining placid, Mark Davies and Jones chanced their arm a little with Davies in particular catching the eye with an enormous pulled 6 off Turner. However, it was this adventurous nature that was to eventually prove Davies’ undoing as he was run out attempting a third run from an accurate Madsen throw from the boundary.
When Groenewald took the new ball, he made an immediate impact having Jones taken in the slip cordon for a beautifully compiled innings of 80. That was Groenewald’s 40th wicket of another fruitful campaign.
The innings finally closed at 261 with Riley the last man dismissed, giving the ever willing Palladino a second scalp in a fantastic collective bowling performance.
Derbyshire would have been troubled enough with an awkward 35 minute period with which to negotiate, without having to promote Khawaja to open due to a blow on the nose suffered by regular opener Paul Borrington. Khawaja’s tenure as opener was short lived as he was trapped LBW to Davies without scoring.
Durston and Madsen batted calmly and skilfully in surviving the remaining overs finishing on 32/1, and captain Madsen and his men will have been satisfied with the situation after the opening day of this crucial fixture.
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