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Wes Agar takes 5-63 as Kent (110-1) trail Northamptonshire (237) by 127 runs after day one of County Championship game at Northampton

Wes Agar takes 5-63 as Kent (110-1) trail Northamptonshire (237) by 127 runs after day one of County Championship game at Northampton

Wes Agar’s five-wicket haul put Kent in the driving seat of their LV= Insurance County Championship Division 1 clash at bottom side Northamptonshire on Sunday.

Australian Agar bagged 5-63 as Northants were bowled out for 237 despite winning the toss and opting to bat first at Wantage Road.

Wes Agar – took five wickets for Kent on day one at Northants. Picture: Keith Gillard

A half-century from Tawanda Muyeye and Daniel Bell-Drummond’s unbeaten 48 saw Kent reduce the deficit to just 127 with nine first-innings wickets remaining by the close.

“It was a great day of cricket for us,” said Agar. “Making early inroads helped. I thought Arshdeep [Singh] bowled really well with the new ball.

“For our batters to go in tonight, it’s not easy and I thought Tawanda [Muyeye] and Daniel [Bell-Drummond] played a great innings so far. Hopefully they can continue that tomorrow.

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“At times with the Kookaburra ball the game goes a bit slower and it gets a bit flatter. For Hami [Qadri] to come in and break those partnerships by bowling spin on a day one wicket, I think that’s a big tick for his game moving forward.

“Luckily enough we got the ball moving a bit in the air, which was nice and I was able to get some wickets. It’s always nice to have a ball in your hand when it is reversing.”

Agar made the first breakthrough at the start of his second over when he removed Ricardo Vasconcelos without score. It was 19-2 nine balls later as Arshdeep Singh picked up Emilio Gay (15) and then 42-3 as skipper Luke Procter went for seven inside the first 11 overs.

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A fluent stand of 62 between Sam Whiteman (40) and Rob Keogh showed there were no demons in the pitch.

Keogh took an unbeaten 116 off Kent in the opening game of the season and tucked into their bowling once more. He punched Matt Quinn square for four and greeted Hamidullah Qadri’s (3-69) arrival with a similar shot before punching him through the covers when the spinner dropped short. He also cut powerfully to the ropes as Northamptonshire reached three figures before lunch.

Whiteman drove Agar authoritatively down the ground for four and was particularly strong off his legs, steering Quinn behind square to the ropes. But with the safety of lunch just four balls away, he lost concentration and flashed at one outside off-stump from Agar with captain Jack Leaning taking an excellent tumbling catch, his third of the morning to leave the hosts 104-4.

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After lunch, Keogh found a new partner in Saif Zaib (26) and they put on 65 in 15 overs. Keogh continued to profit from the cut and backfoot punch, advancing to his half-century off 72 balls. When Arshdeep tested him with a well-directed bouncer he was happy to take that on too, hooking it comfortably for four.

Zaib became Qadri’s first wicket when he backed away and was bowled, attempting a cut. The spinner struck again in his next over when Lewis McManus played down the wrong line and popped a catch up to short leg for one, leaving Northants 171-6.

Keogh grew increasingly nervous through the nineties. He survived an lbw shout from Agar and offered an edge which dropped short of the slips. But although he reverse swept Qadri for four to move to 97, Agar got his man next over when he was trapped lbw.

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Agar’s next over was a double-wicket maiden as he bowled both Ben Sanderson and Jack White without scoring as 211-6 quickly became 217-9.

Tom Taylor traded some lusty blows, pulling Quinn for four and carving Agar to the ropes, before punching two boundaries off Qadri. His bid to gain Northamptonshire a rare batting bonus ended when he was caught off Qadri for 35 with the total on 237.

Kent lost Ben Compton in the fifth over of their reply when he was bowled for five by Sanderson.

Muyeye looked assured, powerfully cutting a short ball from Sanderson for four and playing an exquisite cover drive off Taylor to the ropes. His timing was exemplary but he did play a rare false shot when he top edged an attempted hook, the ball falling just in front of the fielder.

He was soon finding the boundary again, punishing consecutive short balls from Taylor, swotting them disdainfully away to the ropes and smashing Keogh high over deep mid-wicket for six to bring up his half-century off 69 balls.

Bell-Drummond was timing the ball well too, punching White down the ground and carving him square before playing the same bowler through mid-wicket for four to bring up the fifty partnership with Muyeye off 93 balls.

Their partnership extended to 93 by the close as Kent reached 110-1 in 31 overs at the close. Muyeye will resume unbeaten on 58, hopeful of reaching his maiden first-class hundred on day two.

  • June 25, 2023