Kent cling on for draw to thwart Anderson and Lancashire
A defiant half-century from Jack Leaning enabled Kent to cling on for a draw at Emirates Old Trafford as Lancashire confirmed their qualification for Division One of the LV=Insurance County Championship.
Leaning’s unbeaten 53 from 199 balls ensured the visitors were eight down at the close of day four of a rain-affected match that had been dominated by the hosts since James Anderson’s seven for 19 helped dismiss Kent for just 74 in their first innings.
Lancashire pushed hard for the win with Tom Hartley’s best first-class figures of four for 42 giving them more than a sniff as the clock ticked down on a gloomy afternoon in Manchester.
Play finally got underway at 1.10pm with Lancashire declaring overnight on 259 for nine and a first innings deficit of 185 for Kent to contend with.
Subtract the England-bound Zak Crawley from the equation and this looked a big ask for a batting line up blown away by James Anderson in similar conditions on day two.
That impression was strengthened in the fourth over when Ollie Robinson had a horrible swipe at a wide delivery from Luke Wood and was caught by wicketkeeper Dane Vilas for two.
Anderson quickly weighed in with his 1,003rd first class wicket after Jordan Cox edged one to Rob Jones at second slip whose parry found its way into the hands of a grateful Luke Wells standing next to him.
Kent were suddenly 31 for two and their prospects worsened when skipper Joe Denly clipped an innocuous delivery from Danny Lamb’s first over straight to Alex Davies at midwicket for 17 to leave the visitors 40 for three.
With the fourth day pitch expected to turn, Lancashire might have rued Matt Parkinson’s England call up but the leg spinner’s replacement has been in fine form in the Vitality Blast and Hartley claimed Harvey Kuhn for his first red ball wicket of the season when the South African edged to Wells at slip for 21.
When Crawley’s substitute, Tawenda Mueye, was trapped in front by Hartley for seven, swiftly followed in the same way by Darren Stevens for 17 courtesy of Wells’ part time leg spin, the writing was on the wall for Kent at 129 for six with only Leaning offering any resistance.
Just before the last hour was called, Hartley struck again, claiming two wickets in the three balls as first Matt Milnes edged behind for two and then Harry Podmore was clean bowled for a duck.
But Leaning and an impressive James Logan, who finished unbeaten on three, hung on to see out time and allow Kent a share of the spoils.