One down, two to go for Steelbacks

Sam Northeast made 44 for Kent in their five-wicket defeat to the Steelbacks
Sam Northeast made 44 for Kent in their five-wicket defeat to the Steelbacks

The equation prior to the game was a straightforward one.

If Northamptonshire were to continue competing on three fronts this season then victory over Kent in the Yorkshire Bank 40 was a must.

Second in Division Two of the County Championship and through to the last four of the Friends Life t20, the Steelbacks were just about clinging on to the hope of a semi-final place in the domestic game’s poor relation.

Defeat to group leaders Nottinghamshire on Sunday had narrowed the focus somewhat to the point where three wins from the final three games would have to be achieved if any advancement was to be attained.

Even if this came to pass results elsewhere would need to be favourable but you can only control your side of the bargain and to that end it was a job well done.

Kent have been going well in the 40-over game this year with their defeat of Worcestershire on Sunday moving them above the home side in the standings but the two sides changed positions again after this encounter.

And it was a poor effort with the bat, after winning the toss, that proved costly for the visitors.

On a decent, if not entirely perfect, surface for a limited overs game and with a rapid outfield, a total of 188 was under par to say the least and given that they were going nicely after 15 overs of their allocation at 71-1, it looks even worse.

The home attack mixed their pace up nicely to put a brake on the scoring in the middle of the innings but it was more a case of batsmen getting themselves out - Steven Crook the main beneficiary - rather than being got out.

Brendan Nash and Sam Northeast, who were behind the promising start, were the biggest culprits, the former getting himself stumped off James Middlebrook when well set and the latter, after watching Darren Stevens and Fabian Cowdrey come and go, essaying an awful shot to Crook after getting bogged down.

It was quickly apparent that a more modest score was on the cards and it was left to Geraint Jones, who made a handy undefeated 46, to ensure that there was at least something to bowl at.

The main problem with not having too many to try and defend is that if a glut of early wickets don’t come your way the batting side can cruise rather than be made to force the issue.

The dismissals of David Willey, caught hooking at Matt Coles, and David Sales, trapped lbw on the crease by Mitch Claydon, aided Kent’s cause but these needed to be followed up fairly promptly to cause any kind of wobble.

But Kyle Coetzer and Cameron White, put under little pressure throughout, quickly settled into a good rhythm as they ate steadily into the target.

Boundaries didn’t come in any rush, there was no need really, but they were able to rotate the scoreboard efficiently enough to ensure the asking rate didn’t become an issue.

Both cantered past the half century mark with no trouble whatsoever and it looked as though they would see it through but that wasn’t to be as White skewed a drive to point off Coles and Coetzer, 10 from a century, edged Stevens behind.

There was a further scare when Crook had his middle stump removed by Claydon, which made it all a bit closer than it should have been but the three that were required from the final over - I’m not sure how it got to that - were unconvincingly scrambled to wrap things up.

So one down and two to go and it’s Holland, well a group of Australians and South Africans on Dutch passports with the odd local thrown in, up next under the lights on Thursday.