Kent 227 for 7 (Bell-Drummond 124) v Leicestershire
Daniel Bell-Drummond saved Kent from disaster © Getty Images
Daniel Bell-Drummond underlined his potential with a high-quality century to deny Leicestershire control of the opening day of their Specsavers County Championship match against Kent at the Fischer County Ground.
The 22-year-old batsman made 124 in an innings spanning four hours and 20 minutes as Kent recovered from 48 for 4 to close on 227 for 7 after his opening partner, Sean Dickson, had provided the other story of the day.
Dickson was out without scoring in the second over of the match, earning himself a line in the record books for the mode of dismissal when he was given out ‘handled the ball.’
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, almost as if he were retrieving it in a net session to throw back to the bowler.
After a moment’s pause, wicketkeeper Niall O’Brien led Leicestershire’s appeal and, after a brief consultation with his colleague at square leg, umpire Russell Evans raised the finger and Dickson was on his way, having clearly contravened Law 33.
Although not the rarest form of dismissal, 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.
The most recent instance before this, coincidentally, came in a Leicestershire match less than two years ago, when the Indian batsman Cheteshwar Pujara was dismissed in that manner for Derbyshire at Derby in September 2014.
After recovering from Dickson’s loss, Kent ran into more serious difficulties, slumping from 42 for 1 to 48 for 4 in the space of 15 balls, raising questions about captain Sam Northeast’s decision to forego the opportunity now afforded to the away side to bowl first. In cool, blustery conditions on a pitch with a good covering of grass, he opted instead for the toss and chose to bat when the coin fell in his favour.
Leicestershire skipper Mark Cosgrove’s first bowling changes paid off as 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, one whipped through midwicket, the next driven to extra cover, then reached three figures with his 16th boundary, chopped square of the wicket off Raine.
He had added four more boundaries before he was dismissed just before tea, trapped in front by Neil Dexter attempting to work the ball to leg. It is his fifth century in the Championship and follows 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, who is 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, a decision with which he appeared less than happy. Rouse fell in the over before Bell-Drummond, caught by Angus Robson at second slip 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.
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo