Gloucestershire 110 (Roderick 51, Stevens 3-19) and 108 for 5 (Howell 52*) beat Kent 64 (Taylor 4-20, Miles 3-11) and 153 (Bell-Drummond 61, Higgins 5-22) by five wickets
Gloucestershire duly wrapped up a deserved five-wicket Specsavers County Championship win over Kent with two sessions to spare in sunny Canterbury.
Resuming on their overnight score of 61 for 1 and in pursuit of a modest victory target of 108 for their first opening round away victory in the championship since 1996, Gloucestershire wobbled somewhat in losing four more wickets before eventually crossing the win line shortly before noon.
Having bowled by far the best and after batting marginally better in both innings on a lively, early-season surface, Gloucestershire deservedly travelled west with the lions’ share, banking 19 points to Kent’s paltry three.
In the brightest conditions of the game visiting second-wicket partners Benny Howell and Gareth Roderick extended their stand to 75 – the highest of the match – before Kent enjoyed their first breakthrough of day four.
Roderick, on 26, played back to a full off-cutter from Matt Henry to go leg before then, three balls later, Henry struck again by having left-hander James Bracey caught one-handed at third slip by Will Gidman.
Two runs later Jack Taylor became the 17th player of the match to fall to an lbw appeal when he shouldered arms to a Darren Stevens off-cutter that would have demolished middle stump.
— The Cricket Prof. (@CricProf) April 16, 2018
With six runs required Graeme van Buuren’s attempted back foot force against Stevens pegged back off stump via a thin inside edge leaving Howell – a frequent nemesis to Kent – to finish the job off with a straight driven boundary that raised his 90-ball 50 with nine fours. His was the third half-century of a low-scoring but highly entertaining game.
Graham Cowdrey, the former Kent batsman and ECB cricket liaison officer appointed for this match, intimated that the pitch would be marked above average even though the match was effectively completed inside six-action packed sessions.
He said: “There was good pace and carry out there. Sure, it seamed about a little, but you expect that in an early season pitch. If you look back at the dismissals, quite a few of the wickets went to late swing, added to which, there were two or three shots played over the three days.”
Gloucestershire’s head coach Richard Dawson was delighted by his side’s overall performance. He said: “Gareth Roderick’s 51 in our first innings was easily worth a hundred in the context of this game. He was exceptional and the way he and Benny Howell batted in our second innings was vital too, because they kept a high tempo and batted with intent even though the occasional ball beat the outside edge.
“Gareth is a stubborn individual who puts a high price on his wicket and he’s worked hard with the coaching staff over the winter months. “We only had two days of cricket in pre-season coming into this match and we talked about embracing the challenge here because because we knew conditions were always going to be tough.”