Kent260 (Compton 104*, Crawley 54, Parkinson 4-66) and 81 for 6 (Compton 20*, Parkinson 2-22) trail Lancashire 506 by 165 runs
Now, if you will, turn your attention to this third afternoon at the Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence. The weather is pure Arthur Ransome but nobody notices it. Kent are in the toils, just as they will be for the rest of the day. Replying to Lancashire’s 506, the home side are 240 for 7 and Compton is unbeaten on 99. Tom Bailey is bowling to him from the Pavilion End and the Lancastrian’s disciplines never waver. Having made 129 in the draw against Essex last week, Compton searches for the single that will take him to his second successive century. It isn’t there. Lancashire’s fielding is unobtrusively outstanding, the product of hours of practice. The cricket is gripping and, please note, intense.
In the evening session things got worse for them. Tawanda Muyuye, who sometimes seems to have more shots than his temperament can handle, played a short-arm pull to a barely short ball from Bailey, only to see Steven Croft pull off a superb diving catch to his right. Next over, Jordan Cox gallivanted down the wicket and was bowled when trying to hit Parkinson to Chartham.
Compton was joined by his captain, Ollie Robinson, and the pair dug in. The flow of runs, which had been a respectable three-an-over in the first innings, became a gentle rivulet. The bounce got lower, too, which was hardly a pleasant augury for Kent’s slim chances. Half an hour before the close, Robinson was lbw for 11 when he couldn’t jab down on a rapid inswinger from Hasan Ali. Darren Stevens arrived and was greeted by a variety of comments. They will have had no effect; Stevens was probably sledged by the Wife of Bath. What mattered more was the straight ball from Parkinson that rapped Stevens on his front dog and left Neil Bainton with a fairly easy judgement.
But at least those late wickets allowed one to reflect the collective will of this Lancashire side and a fine day for Hasan, who had taken his first wicket for his new county in the morning session, when Cox played no shot to a ball that nipped back and ripped out his off stump. The bowler’s reactions were also entertaining. Hasan began with a fist pump to the ground, progressed to an arms-aloft bellow of triumph and concluded with another clenched mitt, this time in the direction of the heavens. He was, we may conclude, quite pleased.
Lancashire supporters should enjoy Hasan’s celebrations when he plays at Emirates Old Trafford this summer. Then again, one suspects they might enjoy quite a lot of things about their side’s cricket this season. That will be a strange experience for some of them and one hopes they don’t find the adjustment too upsetting.
Compton finished the day on 20 not out. He has so far batted nine hours 42 minutes in this match and faced 421 balls for his 121 runs. Nobody has ever carried his bat for Kent in both innings of a first-class match.
“I’m just exhausted, so I’m not quite sure how well I’m coming across here,” he said. “But to follow up my innings at Essex with my first century at Canterbury is very important to me. I was just trying to watch the ball as closely as I can.
“They aren’t terrible batting conditions and there’ll be other days when you find yourself on the wrong end of things but I’m just grateful I could spend a long time out there and just try to do my job as well as I can. It was a bit weird being stuck on 99. I don’t think that’s happened to me before and they were quite smart about it. They just put the ball there and I had to try to be patient. Thankfully I got there in the end.”
Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications