Kent skipper Billings hails 'brilliant' Sanderson and White

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It was spin bowlers Rob Keogh and Simon Kerrigan who grabbed the headlines following Northants' dramatic win over Kent in the LV= County Championship Division One on Thursday.

But for home skipper Sam Billings, it was the 'brilliant' pace bowling of Ben Sanderson and Jack White that proved to be the difference between the sides at Canterbury.

Keogh and Kerrigan both claimed five wickets on the final day as the County secured a 203-run win with just nine minutes to spare, but Billings felt it was the first innings seam bowling of Sanderson and White at the start of day three that set things up.

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Kent resumed on 287 for five, just 16 runs behind Northants, and had high hopes of building a big lead, but instead they were restricted to 335 all out as Sanderson claimed four for 63 and White four 62.

Kent skipper Sam BillingsKent skipper Sam Billings
Kent skipper Sam Billings

That kept Northants right in the game, with overseas stars Ryan Rickelton (133) and Jimmy Neesham (91) then powering Northants to 396 for eight in the second innings to set up what turned out to be a thrilling final day.

And England man Billings, who was unbeaten at end on 16 from 85 balls as Kent were dismissed fo 161, felt that third morning spell of seam bowling was the key.

“We had an opportunity in our first innings to really put our foot down and kind of command a position in the game but look, this is division one cricket," said the wicket-keeper/batsman.

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"They’re a good side and they just toiled away and got their rewards.

"I thought their two seamers were actually brilliant throughout the game and that they were the difference.

"And losing five for 30 (in the first innings) was always going to be a struggle. All of a sudden that 30-lead wasn’t enough.

"We really could have had a hundred lead or so and then it’s a completely different complexion to the game, but like I said, credit to Northants, they did well.

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"Once they got into a good position, their two overseas players really did change the dynamic of the game.

"We all know how dangerous Jimmy Neesham is and that knock really catapulted them into a dangerous position which was hard to stop for us.

“That was just a classic game of a four-day cricket on a pitch that’s always going to have something in it for either spin or seam on the final day.

"They made the most out of it and we just didn’t apply ourselves anywhere near correctly.

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"If we look at it there was a couple of good balls in there but in terms of application and in terms of dismissals there were a lot of soft dismissals, but credit to them they toiled away and actually it was more about character than probably skill in the end and yeah, they got the better of us."

And he added: “Eight minutes left or whatever It was … you go back to losing five for 30 in that first innings and we just didn’t put our foot on the throat and press.

"It’s incredibly disappointing as you can probably tell and we’re in a bit of a dog fight now.

“It’s a case of character and how we apply ourselves and do the dirty work when it’s tough really.

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"This is proper four-day cricket and it hasn’t been like this probably my whole career if I’m honest.

"This is where you see skill and character come to the fore because of these good cricket wickets, it’s a battle of attrition.

"Nothing much can happen for the first two days and then all of a sudden things can happen quickly.

"It’s about the team that can battle collectively that will come out on top and we came out second best."