Stevens stars as Kent take charge at Gloucestershire
PUBLISHED: 19:04 10 June 2018
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Darren Stevens once again demonstrated that age is no object as Kent took charge on the second day of the Specsavers County Championship match against Gloucestershire at Bristol.
Still campaigning successfully in Division Two at 42, the veteran all-rounder scored an enterprising half-century and shared in a stand of 161 with centurion Joe Denly as the visitors ran up a record-breaking first-innings total of 582-9 declared.
Stevens then took 2-11 in eight overs with the new ball as Gloucestershire’s top order imploded, the hosts reaching the close on 44-4.
Jack Taylor was unbeaten on 24 and Graeme van Buuren five not out, but Gloucestershire still trail by 538 runs with six wickets left, needing a further 388 to avoid following on.
Five sessions in the field clearly took their toll, Stevens bowling Benny Howell without scoring via an inside edge and then knocking back Chris Dent’s middle stump as Gloucestershire’s captain shouldered arms.
Generating genuine pace at the other end, New Zealander Matt Henry had Gareth Roderick caught at gully and James Bracey edged a Harry Podmore length ball to the slips as the home side collapsed under scoreboard pressure.
Their attack denuded by the injury-enforced absence of Dan Worrall, Liam Norwell and David Payne, Gloucestershire were made to toil in the heat as bat dominated ball on a characteristically low and slow pitch during the first two sessions.
Denly and Stevens ensured there was no let-up after Kent resumed on 297-4, the fifth-wicket pair holding sway for 37 overs to lay the foundations for Kent’s highest ever total in a match at Bristol.
Leading by example, Denly posted a 93-ball fifty before moving up through the gears to register his first hundred of the season from 174 deliveries with 13 fours.
Stevens matched his captain blow for blow in a forthright innings of 89 from 113 balls, the veteran campaigner opening his shoulders to plunder 13 fours and a six.
Although Kieran Noema-Barnett snared Stevens and Craig Miles, again the pick of the home bowlers, had Denly caught at the wicket shortly after lunch, there was no respite for a Gloucestershire side that visibly wilted under fire from Adam Rouse and Podmore.
Kent’s seventh-wicket duo added 96 in 24.5 overs, both batsmen contributing half-centuries to hasten a declaration that came shortly after the tea interval.
Miles’ persistence was rewarded with figures of 4-122 and slow left-armer Van Buuren weighed in with 3-74 but, for the rest of Gloucestershire’s bowlers, it was a day to forget.