Bob Willis Trophy: Kent's Joe Denly makes 70 not out against Middlesex

Joe Denly hit 11 fours in his unbeaten 70 against Middlesex, the county he played for from 2012 to 2014
Joe Denly hit 11 fours in his unbeaten 70 against Middlesex, the county he played for from 2012 to 2014
Bob Willis Trophy, Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence (day three):
Middlesex 269: White 99; Stevens 5-79, Klaassen 4-44
Kent 146-5: Denly 70*; Cummins 3-41
Kent (3 pts) trail Middlesex (3 pts) by 123 runs

Middlesex paceman Miguel Cummins took three wickets as Kent, led by Joe Denly's unbeaten half-century, were made to work hard for their first-innings runs on day three of their Bob Willis Trophy game in Canterbury.

Denly top-scored for the hosts with an excellent unbeaten 70 as he and nightwatchman Matt Milnes (4*) made it through to stumps on 146-5 to trail the visitors by 123 runs going into the fourth and final day.

Kent lost makeshift opener Marcus O'Riordan and his partner Daniel Bell-Drummond within 13 overs as they started their response to Middlesex's workmanlike total of 269 all out.

Bell-Drummond (14) fended at a lifter from Cummins to glove a catch through to the keeper, then, steaming down the Nackington Road slope, Cummins drew O'Riordan outside off, fencing away from his body at another short one to be caught at fourth slip.

Shortly after tea, and with the score on 57, last week's double-century maker Jack Leaning (4) blotted his copybook by reaching on the drive at a wide one from Ethan Bamber to be caught at point.

Denly, back in the Kent side after his exclusion from England's Test squad, teamed up with Sam Billings to cash in on several loose deliveries from James Harris and Bamber in an attractive fourth-wicket stand worth 39.

Billings added 20 to the partnership before his loose back-foot waft against the extra pace of Cummins - one of the few overseas players on show this season - flew to the keeper to make it 96-4.

Denly maintained a cool head at the other end to reach an attractive fifty in two hours with a clipped four through mid-wicket against dangerman Cummins. The right-hander faced 83 balls and hit nine fours.

Denly combined with Oli Robinson to help see off Cummins after the Bajan claimed three for 41 from his three excellent spells but his replacement, Martin

Andersson, moved one late off the seam to have Robinson held at slip by Stevie Eskinazi at the second attempt.

At the start of the day, reduced cloud cover and the softer, older ball, ensured seventh-wicket partners Robbie White and Harris found batting conditions far more favourable than their counterparts had during the opening two days.

The pair frustrated Kent for much of the opening session, adding 93 useful runs as White posted a 151-ball 50, with eight fours scored in a shade over three hours, and soon moved past his first-class career-best of 69 scored for Loughborough MCCU against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road in 2017.

His near five-hour vigil spread over 220 balls was ended by the 11th delivery with the second new ball and an agonising juggled catch in the cordon. Prodding half-forward to a Darren Stevens away-swinger, White turned to watch as the outside edge flew to second slip where Leaning clung on to the chance at the third attempt.

Harris, the former Kent loanee, had reached a patient 41 from 128 balls when he too was out-foxed by Stevens. Prodding forward to a leg-cutter, Harris pushed inside the line to have his off stump plucked out.

Fred Klaassen came up with a near-identical delivery to clip off stump and account for left-hander Cummins and give Kent their third bowling bonus point.

Stevens duly wrapped up his 28th five-wicket first-class haul by trapping last man Thilan Walallawita lbw low on the front pad with an in-swinger to end the innings after 108 overs, while Klaassen (4-44) recorded career-best first-class figures.

Kent's England batsman Joe Denly:

"It's great to be back here. It feels like a really long time since I played at Canterbury. We bat a long way down, so we'll try and get more overs under their bowlers' belts and try and put some pressure on their batsmen.

"Cummins generated quite a bit of bounce, which is unusual here. It was really challenging, certainly in the channel. You saw that with a couple of the early dismissals.

"DBD certainly got a nasty one and they bowled well generally with the new ball. It'll be tricky because there are some good balls waiting for you on that surface."

Middlesex paceman Miguel Cummins:

"I was watching their tall-left armed guy Klaassen. He's also tall and seemed to be getting a lot of extra bounce. I said to my guys that with me being tall as well I thought I could put in a bit extra.

"I was trying to get the ball that got Bell-Drummond a lot fuller than I did. It was normal seam-up, but there was a little extra something in that one. If you put it in here you get your rewards.

"Our bowling plan was to just stick to one side of the wicket. This is a fast-scoring ground so anything with width or anything loose, you'll pay for it."

Match report supplied by PA Media.

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