On a beautiful Kentish summer’s day when batsmen might dream of crease occupation and posting centuries, 17 wickets tumbled and bowlers from both sides prospered on an incredible opening day to Kent’s LV= County Championship clash with Derbyshire.
Cock-a-hoop at Mark Footitt’s stunning bowling return of five for 45 and Tony Palladino’s stingy 18 over stint of three for 19 that had helped dismiss the hosts for 205 within 67 overs, Derbyshire were bought back to earth with a thump by England Lions’ paceman Matt Coles as they slumped to 23 for five within 11 overs of their reply.
The East Midlands’ county limped to 67 for seven by stumps and will go into the second day of this Division 2 encounter still trailing the hosts by 140 runs.
Kent’s leading wicket-taker Coles, who returned to the club during the close season after a troubled 18-month stint with Hampshire, knocked over the visiting top five with a breathtaking opening spell (8-6-13-5) for his first five-wicket haul of the campaign.
Four of Derbyshire’s top six went without scoring, the first three without a run on the board as Coles, described last week by his skipper Sam Northeast as a ‘wrecking ball of a bowler’, wreaked havoc.
Like Kent, two wickets fell in the first five balls of the innings as Ben Slater (0) had off stump clipped by a full length ball before a similar delivery snared Chesney Hughes (0) leg before.
In his next over, Coles had Tillakaratne Dilshan (0) caught low at second slip after squaring up the Sri Lankan right-hander with a leg-cutter before Wes Durston nicked one between gully and the cordon and to the ropes at third man to open Derbyshire’s scoring.
The rout continued when Billy Godleman (2) fended a Coles lifter high to third slip and Scott Elstone (0) walked across his stumps aiming to mid-wicket only to depart leg before.
Durston (35) took his boundary count to seven before he played inside the line of a Darren Stevens off-cutter to go lbw and Wayne White (0) followed in near identical fashion to make it 40 for seven.
Kent, who batted first after winning their fifth consecutive championship toss, had no hesitation in batting first in seemingly ideal conditions at the Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence. Yet left-armer Footitt proved their instant nemesis, bagging two wickets in his opening over and going on to claim five for 45 – his fifth five-wicket haul for Derbyshire and his 9th since the start of last season.
Bowling down the Nackington Road slope he snared Daniel Bell-Drummond (2) with an in-swinging second delivery then, three balls later, trapped Rob Key (0) leg-before with a fuller in-ducker.
Once Footitt and the frugal Tony Palladino – the latter bowled 17.2 overs before conceding a boundary – rested, Kent made hay against some slipshod support seam from Wayne White and Tom Taylor, who served up a rash of boundary balls and went for over five-and-over.
Kent’s third-wicket partners Joe Denly (30) and Northeast took full toll with a third-wicket stand of 96 inside 23 overs that ended just before lunch when Denly, in attempting to steer the ball down to third man, chopped onto the base of his off stump to gift White his sole success.
Having reached his sixth championship 50 of the summer from 61 balls, Northeast fell 15 short of his first hundred when, soon after the lunch break, he chased a wide one and also dragged on to give Palladino the first if his three 19 return.
Kent lost their next three wickets with the score on 146 and in the space of 11 balls. Stevens (1) nicked a back-foot defensive push against Footitt through to wicketkeeper Poynton, making his first championship appearance for Derbyshire since September 2013.
Three balls later Fabian Cowdrey (22) shouldered arms only to have off stump feathered by Palladino, then Ryan Davies, Kent’s teenage understudy wicketkeeper, suffered a fourth-ball duck on first-class debut when he lost middle stump to a Footitt in-swinger.
Derbyshire bagged a fifth, mid-session wicket when Coles, having just been dropped at mid-on, edged an attempted drive against Palladino to Durston diving to his right at second slip.
Kent partially re-grouped with a ninth-wicket stand worth 53 in 21 overs either side of tea, but Footitt returned after the interval to have Adam Riley caught behind for a career-best 34.
Calum Haggett, through unbeaten on 20, blotted his copybook by running out last man Ivan Thomas when attempting a second to White at deep cover as Kent were dismissed by 4.30pm having lost their last eight wickets for 107.