Lewis Gregory claims career-best figures on 22-wicket day

Cricket

Kent 139 (Gregory 6-32) and 24 for 2 trail Somerset 169 (Banton 63, Podmore 3-37) by six runs

Twenty-two wickets fell in an action-packed second day, seven of them to Somerset seamer Lewis Gregory and 10 overall to leg-before appeals as the Specsavers Championship Division One leaders made up for their first day washout against Kent.

Despite improved conditions at the Spitfire Ground, Kent went in at stumps on 24 for 2 after 12 overs of their second innings – still trailing the visitors by six runs going into the third day of the match. Facing a 30-run deficit when batting for a second time, Kent lost Zak Crawley lbw to a shooting Gregory offcutter then Joe Denly, whose off stump was feathered half-way up by a Jamie Overton legcutter.

Somerset, who began their first innings of the match by 2.40pm, made a disastrous start in response to Kent’s 139 all out inside 41 overs.

Azhar Ali played across a straight one from Darren Stevens to be given leg-before and James Hildreth prodded at a Harry Podmore away-swinger and was caught behind. Tom Abell pushed inside a Podmore legcutter then Podmore seamed another down the slope to have George Bartlett caught at the wicket via an inside edge.

Eight more batsmen departed during the day’s extended final session of 38 overs as Matt Milnes broke a fifth-wicket stand worth 62 by enticing Steve Davies to toe-end a short one to second slip.

Tom Banton notched a maiden first-class fifty, and the first of the game, from 92 balls and with nine fours but, with the scores level, his stay ended when he pulled a short one from Grant Stewart to square leg.

Stewart trimmed the off stump of Craig Overton with a sublime away-swinger, Gregory worked across a straight one from Milnes for another lbw then Stewart struck again in fortuitous fashion when Jamie Overton, in attempting to kick the ball from the crease, only succeeded in volleying it on to his own leg stump.

Two balls later, Milnes snared Jack Leech leg before to limit Somerset’s lead to 30 as Milnes, Stewart and Podmore each finished with three wickets apiece.

Earlier, Somerset seamer Gregory made up for the rain-ruined opening day by bagging career-best figures of 6 for 32. Batting first after an uncontested toss, Kent were seven down by lunch leaving 1500 schoolchildren – welcomed to the ground for free under the Countrystyle Recycling Schools Day Out scheme – with precious little to cheer.

Sean Dickson fell leg-before when playing outside the line to a shooting Jack Brooks offcutter, then in the next over Denly, on his season’s home debut, went lbw when playing around a full one from Craig Overton. Daniel Bell-Drummond departed in near identical fashion, leg-before to Brooks, when jabbing down late to another full delivery.

After five overs from the Nackington Road End, Overton limped off the field to be replaced by brother Jamie, who struck with his fifth ball, a legcutter that squared up Heino Kuhn for a catch behind the stumps.

Brooks rested after a fine opening burst of 5-2-3-2 to be replaced at the Pavilion End by Gregory who was celebrating after only three deliveries by having Crawley caught off a top-edged hook.

Craig Overton returned after treatment and was re-introduced in a bid to break a sixth-wicket stand between Alex Blake and Ollie Robinson that added 56 inside 12 overs. The ploy backfired initially when, after only five deliveries Overton hobbled off again with a groin injury, forcing Gregory to complete the over, but the short break in play proved crucial as Blake wafted outside off stump to be caught at second slip after a clear lapse in concentration.

In Gregory’s next over Stevens missed an offcutter to depart lbw without scoring then, three balls later, Stewart was downed on nought by Azhar at second slip as Kent limped into lunch on 121 for 7.

Gregory returned after the interval to polish the innings off. The right-armer ran three deliveries down the slope to trap top-scorer Robinson lbw for 37, then peg back the middle stump of both Stewart and last man Milnes.

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