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Kent Spitfires fly into town!

Updated: Aug 5, 2023

In the footsteps of such greats as Colin Cowdrey, Mike Denness and Derek Underwood come the men of Kent next Wednesday when they arrive to take on Lancashire Lightning in the Group B Metro Bank One Day Cup fixture at Stanley Park. Kent’s previous four visits to Blackpool were in the County Championship and this is their first for a one-day game.

The Blackpool rivalry began in 1961 when Kent’s leg spinner David Baker took the bowling honours with a first innings return of 5-87 as Bob Barber top scored with 57 in Lancashire’s 254 but Roy Collins replied in kind with 5-39 as Lancashire took control with only England opener Peter Richardson making any headway with 34 in Kent’s modest 132. After a declaration at 199-3, Brian Booth 88 not out and Ken Grieves 67, Kent began what would have been a run-a-minute chase but rain prevented a finish as they had advanced to 167-3.

The visit three years later in 1964 saw Lancashire make only 169, with Peter Marner top scoring with 37 and Kent’s Alan Dixon taking 5-63, and Kent replied with 212, David Nicholls 81 and Denness 53, as Brian Statham, 4-75, and Ken Higgs, 3-67, restricted the lead to 43 runs. Duncan Worsley, 104, then scored his first century for Lancashire and, with Grieves making 72, a total of 285 left Kent requiring 243 to win in just under four hours. They set off well, Bob Wilson making 75 not out, but some tight bowling by ‘Sonny’ Ramadhin, 3-39 from 20 overs, left them 50 runs short with four wickets in hand at the close.

Kent’s third visit in 1966 ended in debacle for Lancashire, the match ending in two days. Batting first, only Harry Pilling, 13, Worsley, 14, Ken Shuttleworth, 11, and Keith Goodwin, 13, reached double figures as Lancashire collapsed to 62 all out from 40.1 overs with Underwood having the splendid figures of 6-9 from 10.1 overs and David Sayer assisting with 3-13. Openers Brian Luckhurst, 40, and Denness, 45, passed the Lancashire total before being parted and then Cowdrey scored 56 on a pitch ‘of doubtful lasting qualities’ as Kent totalled 251-8 before declaring. Jimmy Cumbes, 4-42 was Lancashire’s most successful bowler. Second time around Lancashire fared marginally better than their first innings but with Worsley, 76, and Barry Wood, 31, the only two batsmen to make any headway, the end result was 159 all out and defeat by an innings and 30 runs.

Underwood took 4-59 to give him match figures of 10-68.

It was 2003 before Kent visited again and on that occasion it was a 1,200-run fest and that after Rob Key had gone early to leave Kent at 5-1. Ed Smith, 203 from 257 balls with 35 fours and one six, and Matthew Walker, 150 from 344 balls with 19 fours, assisted by Mark Ealham, 95, and Geraint Jones, 60 not out, enabled Kent to declare at 602-6, the highest first-class score made on the ground. Mark Chilton, 114, Chris Schofield, 66, and Carl Hooper, 60, replied valiantly but 365 all out was the best Lancashire could muster.

Following-on Hooper, 128 not out from 235 balls, saved the day for Lancashire who batted out most of the final day to finish just seven runs ahead of the Kent total at 244-6 and the match was drawn.

So, albeit the game is of one-day duration, Lancashire will be looking to even the score at Stanley Park where Kent lead 1-0 with three games drawn. Let’s hope for some sunshine and a large crowd to cheer Lancashire Lightning along!

Gerry Wolstenholme

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