Derbyshire have work to do as Kent take upper hand

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A century from Joe Denly after Zak Crawley had narrowly missed out on a hundred put promotion-chasing Kent in a strong position at the end of the opening day of the Division Two match against Derbyshire at Derby.

Denly made 106, Crawley 96 and Heino Kuhn 51 as Kent passed 241 in the first innings of a county championship match for only the second time this season to close on 365 for 6.

Derbyshire struggled on a flat track after losing the toss but plugged away and took four wickets after tea as Hardus Viljoen and Tony Palladino both ended with two wickets.

Kent had taken only six batting points before this game but a straw coloured pitch suggested there were plenty of runs on offer although the start proved deceptive as Hardus Viljoen struck in his second over.

Sean Dickson had made a double hundred on his last visit to Derby and had scored three centuries in his previous nine championship innings but was lbw to the South African fast bowler who should have removed Denly with his next ball but Matt Critchley put down a low chance at third slip.

That proved a big moment in the day and, potentially the match, as Denly and Crawley took advantage of good batting conditions with a stand of 170 in 41 overs.

Both players prospered against inconsistent bowling with Crawley pulling Viljoen for six on his way to a 46 ball 50 and he dispatched Critchley over long on for a second as Kent went into lunch already well placed to take control of the contest.

Derbyshire’s bowling improved after the break but they took only one more wicket as Crawley again fell short of a maiden first-class century.

He equalled his previous best of 93 against Warwickshire in June when he was dropped by Sean Ervine at second slip but he added only three more before he played across a full length ball from Tony Palladino and was lbw.

But Denly, who two years ago had to leave Kent’s game at the 3aaa County Ground after his wife went into labour, reached his third championship hundred of the season off the last ball before tea when he cut Critchley for his 12th four.

At least Derbyshire got some reward for plugging away by removing both Kuhn and Denly in the space of three overs with Kuhn falling to an ugly swipe across the line at Palladino before Viljoen bowled Denly off an inside edge.

Daniel Bell-Drummond and Sam Billings secured a third batting point before the Kent captain was lbw sweeping at Alex Hughes and Lockie Ferguson bowled Harry Podmore but it was still Kent’s day.