On the hottest day of the year what better way to spend a family Sunday afternoon than at one of the most picturesque cricket grounds in the world? There can be no denying the appeal of Canterbury’s St Lawrence Ground on the harshest of English summer days, but when the sun is out, the temperature rises and the beer is flowing it is a wonderful place. Bribed with a bit of tobogganing in the morning (yep – hottest day of the year and we went down the UK’s longest toboggan run) the Fuller family were excited to continue down the A2 for a spot of Twenty20 action as Kent faced the Sussex Sharks.
We arrived a full hour before the game started, but already the car park was filling up. The St Lawrence ground is one of the few that allows you to drive you car right up to the boundary, meaning we had a “tailgate” party so the Americans say. CMF had laid on all the extras – sausage rolls, cherries, salad cream and of course a few beers – perfect for the sunshine. Soon it was time for Sussex to try and get their Twenty20 campaign back on track after two wins from their four games. They won the toss and decided to bat first…..
Kent Spitfires 133-5 beat Sussex Sharks 132-7 by 5 wickets – St Lawrence Ground – Sunday 31st May
It is important in Twenty20 to a) start off fast with just two fielders allowed outside the inner circle, and b) not to lose your top order batsmen in the first five or so overs. Sussex got half of this right – Goodwin monopolised the strike early on and hit over a run a ball in the first few overs, but never received the support his hitting deserved. Nash, Martin-Jenkins, Ed Smith and Ed Joyce all departed for less than five runs between them, facing just sixteen balls. 44-4 after just eight overs was not a promising start.
The girls had got used to flashing their scorecards in the air whenever the music came on but it was more for the wickets than the boundaries in the first fifteen overs as apart from Goodwin’s quick fire 39, and a dogged 26 from Yardy there was little boundary action (nine in fact in the first fourteen overs).
70 for 6 with just five overs to go brought ex-Kent big hitter Yasir Arafat to the crease and he demonstrated what his ex-employees were missing. 43 runs from a shade over 30 balls was a real Twenty20 innings. The girls had been waiting patiently for a six all innings, but in their trip to the little girls room which took all of 4 balls they missed two of them from Arafat including one that clear the first two rows of cars in the outfield. 132 for 7 was another low score in the competition and underlines the issues batsmen had had with the early start to the competition this season. That being said, some fantastic bowling from Mahmood with 3 for 16 from his four overs did help.
So a tad over six an over was required by Kent but they fell into the same trap as the Sharks with three wickets going down very cheaply in the opening few overs. However if there are two batsmen in England at the moment who are in tip top batting form then it is ex-England wicketkeeper Geraint Jones and Martin Van Jaarsveld. The South African had already hit four centuries so far this season and looked to another hit innings here with three boundaries in his first four balls. His 39 from 32 balls was the catalyst for Jones to go onto to hit the first fifty I have seen this season, scoring 56 in less than forty balls including three sixes. With Jones in his mid-thirties he hit a magnificent strike towards the boundary (as luck would have it the little Fullers had gone on another toilet break) and the Sussex fielding pair of Dwayne Smith and Chris Nash. Smith palmed the ball up in the air but collided in the process with the on rushing Nash, sending him flying into the advertising hoardings. It was obvious that Nash was hurt (none of the histrionics from cricketers like footballers) and after fifteen minutes of treatment an ambulance was summoned and Nash was taken away with a suspected broken leg. Jones fell eventually for 56 with the scores level but three overs to go meant Kent easily coasted home.
It was a great afternoon. Isabella got to wear all of her make up at various points in the afternoon, Lolly managed to don her best St Tropez scowl and CMF managed to burn her Charlies without actually getting them out. Great days…