Kent 180 (Bell-Drummond 84*, Mullaney 3-2, Pattinson 3-30) and 265 (Milne 51, Gurney 3-63) drew with Nottinghamshire 371 (Mullaney 168, Hales 85, Coles 3-99)
File photo – Adam Milne’s efforts with the bat helped save Kent © Getty Images
The combination of rain and the stubborn resistance of Kent’s eighth-wicket pair denied Nottinghamshire an opportunity to open up what would have begun to look like an unassailable lead at the top of Division Two.
Victory would have taken Nottinghamshire to 171 points, 37 clear of second-placed Worcestershire and 55 in front of Kent. Although both those rivals have a game in hand, having to make up that amount of ground at the halfway stage is a daunting challenge.
When they dismissed Kent for 265 at around 5.50pm, following a start delayed until 4.30pm, there were 46 overs left to score 75 runs. But after allowing Kent’s innings to end in fine drizzle, the umpires decided conditions were not good enough to start a new innings.
It was typical of cricket’s way of looking ridiculous that the officials and players were halfway to the middle when the decision was taken, although in the event it was not long before the rain became heavy to the point at which it would caused play to be stopped anyway, and improvement came too late to start within the cut-off time.
The man Kent needed to thank most for gaining the unexpected draw points was Adam Milne, the New Zealand pace bowler who is clearly too good a batsman to be coming in at No. 10.
Milne atoned for a second-ball duck in the first innings with a half-century off 87 balls. He unveiled some pretty impressive strokes, putting James Pattinson in his box with a classy cut and a textbook straight drive off consecutive balls to raise his boundary tally to eight.
His innings ended immediately after he had completed his fifty, when Luke Fletcher induced an edge for Chris Read to take his fourth catch of the innings, yet Milne had given sterling service to his new employers on debut.
Most importantly, in his team’s cause, he had shared a partnership with wicketkeeper Adam Rouse of 79 that spanned 29 overs, a good chunk of which they had to negotiate in the most difficult light of the third evening, not long after their team-mate Darren Stevens had ducked into the Harry Gurney half-bouncer that curtailed his involvement in the match.
It turned a 24-run deficit with the fall of the seventh wicket to a 55-run advantage, which Rouse was able to swell further with Mitch Claydon holding the fort for eight overs at the other end.
Rouse, who had been put down on 21 at third slip off Fletcher, made 35, his last scoring shot a pull for six off Steven Mullaney before an attempt to mete out the same treatment to the next delivery fell into the hands of Samit Patel on the boundary.
Nottinghamshire would have been better equipped to see the pair off more quickly had Jake Ball been fit, but the fact was in any event that neither the old pink ball nor the hard new one proved to be much of a weapon.
Ball’s knee has ruled him out of any cricket for the next couple of weeks, leaving places up for grabs in both the Nottinghamshire team and the England Test squad. Stuart Broad is now thought likely to play in Saturday’s Royal London One-Day Cup final and, by the same token, can be expected to be available for the first Test against South Africa next week.
Stevens, meanwhile, will miss Kent’s match against Northamptonshire at Beckenham next week. The scan he underwent on Wednesday evening happily showed no damage as a result of his blow to the head, but under the ECB’s concussion protocol he is required to take a mandatory break of six days.
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo