Bell-Drummond frustrates Foxes

Daniel Bell-Drummond underlined his potential with a high-quality century to deny Leicestershire complete control of the opening day of their Specsavers County Championship Division Two match against Kent.

The 22-year-old batsman made 124 in an innings spanning four hours and 20 minutes as Kent recovered from 48 for four to close on 227 for seven .

His opening partner Sean Dickson had provided the other story of the day when he was out handled the ball without scoring in the second over of the match.

Having jammed down his bat on a fullish delivery from Leicestershire seamer Ben Raine, the South African-born player looked down to see the ball roll back over his foot and towards the stumps.

In those circumstances, the laws permit a batsman to use his bat to protect his wicket or simply to kick the ball away. Yet Dickson instead reached down and deflected the ball with his right hand.

After a moment’s pause, wicketkeeper Niall O’Brien led Leicestershire’s appeal and Dickson was on his way, having clearly contravened law 33.

There have been only 60 instances of a batsman being given out handled the ball in the history of first-class cricket. Dickson is only the second for Kent, the last being George Bennett against Sussex in 1872, and it is the first anywhere since Cheteshwar Pujara was dismissed in that manner for Derbyshire, also against Leicestershire, in September 2014.

Kent recovered to 42 for one but slumped to 48 for four in the space of 15 balls, raising questions about captain Sam Northeast’s decision to forgo the opportunity to bowl first in cool, blustery conditions on a pitch with a good covering of grass.

Wayne White ripped out Joe Denly’s off stump with his first ball, Charlie Shreck knocked off Sam Northeast’s off bail and White claimed his second wicket as Darren Stevens clipped him straight to Mark Cosgrove at square-leg.

But Bell-Drummond, who has ambitions to play for England that many good judges believe he will realise, mixed watchfulness with attack in a manner that underlined his cricketing intelligence to guide Kent out of trouble.

He took 104 balls to complete his first half-century, needing to be watchful at times, but his second was much brisker as he moved into more attacking mode.

He terminated White’s second spell with three consecutive boundaries, moved from 86 to 94 with a couple of high-class shots for four off Shreck and reached three figures with his 16th boundary, chopped square of the wicket off Raine.

He had added four more boundaries before he was trapped in front by Neil Dexter attempting to work the ball to leg.

It was his fifth century in the Championship and followed an unbeaten double hundred against Loughborough MCCU in his only other innings so far this season. Kent’s scheduled opening match against Worcestershire was abandoned without a ball bowled in four days.

He had support from Alex Blake and Adam Rouse – the latter making his Championship debut in the absence of Sam Billings, who has been given leave to play for Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League.

Blake contributed 26 to a fifth-wicket stand of 57 before he was judged caught behind off Clint McKay.

Rouse fell in the over before Bell-Drummond, caught by Angus Robson at second slip for 38 off a thick edge as McKay struck for a second time. He and Bell-Drummond added 107 in 26.1 overs.

A combination of bad light and drizzle restricted play to only a couple of overs after tea, with almost 30 overs lost in total from the day’s play.

“I was pretty happy with the innings, although a bit disappointed not to continue,” said Bell-Dummond. “Neil Dexter is a very effective bowler but it was a ball I probably should have kept out. 

“It is not the worst pitch by any means, quite nice to bat on.  Leicestershire bowled well, especially in the morning session, but I felt I saw off the new ball quite well and was then able to push on as the ball got older and the bowlers tired a little.

“Adam Rouse played nicely and it helped me that we were able to keep the scoreboard ticking over.”

Leicestershire elite performance director Andrew McDonald said of Dickson’s dismissal: “I think there was a bit of shock at first.

“I’ve never seen it happen before, at least not in a game I’ve been involved in, and when Sean used his hand to stop the ball rolling into his stumps I think the guys needed a moment to digest what had happened.

“But then it was a case of ‘hang on, you’re not allowed to do that’ and they appealed.

“The law states clearly that you’re not permitted to use your hand to keep the ball from hitting the stumps.

“I don’t think anyone in either dressing room would argue that it was not the right decision to give him out.”

Source: ECB

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