Northants return to form with crushing Kent win

Muhammad Azharullah was key for Northants (picture: Dave Ikin)
Muhammad Azharullah was key for Northants (picture: Dave Ikin)

Northants crushed Kent by an innings and 23 runs to get their County Championship Division Two campaign back on track.

After disappointing defeats to Gloucestershire and Derbyshire, David Ripley’s men dug in at the Spitfire Ground, winning with almost a day-and-a-half to spare.

Kent were dismissed for 208 in their second innings, losing nine wickets in less than two sessions to gift a 23-point win to the visitors.

The hosts went straight in to the nets afterwards having banked only three points from this their seventh defeat in championship starts.

Resuming on their overnight second innings of 90 for one, Kent, who were all out for just 167 in their first innings, lost four more in the morning session.

Once again, poor shot selection led to their demise with Joe Denly (33) starting the rot with a meek clip off his hip straight into the hands of Josh Cobb at short midwicket.

Skipper Sam Northeast was pinned leg-before when playing across a full length ball from Muhammad Azharullah, as was Ben Harmison, whose painful 36-minute stay for three ended with a near identical stroke against Ben Sanderson.

On 27 Rob Key had raised Kent’s hundred in fortunate circumstances with a top-edged hook against Azharullah that was palmed over the ropes for six by Maurice Chambers at long leg.

But after adding nine to his own score Key perished when another miscued pull against Sanderson sailed to Azharullah who safely pouched the opportunity to make it 121 for five.

The capitulation gathered pace after lunch when Darren Stevens was adjudged leg before for 15 to the excellent Olly Stone who, in tandem with Azharullah, sent down 53 of the 78 overs needed to skittle Kent.

Stone cleaned up Calum Haggett with his first ball and although James Tredwell survived the hat-trick ball, the end for Kent was nigh.

Azharullah had Tredwell caught at long leg, one of three Kent players to be caught out on the hook, as was top-scorer Sam Billings (43) leaving Maurice Chambers to polish off the win by rearranging the stumps of Kent’s last man Matt Hunn.