Lancashire today ended the season with a narrow and thrilling defeat to Kent at Canterbury as their hopes of going through the entire LV= County Championship campaign unbeaten for the first time since 1974 were thwarted at the last.
Late in the evening session Kent reached their target, scoring an astonishing 418-8 to win by two wickets with 14.2 overs to spare. It was the highest fourth innings total against Lancashire in their history.
HIGHEST 4th INNINGS TOTALS AGAINST LANCASHIRE
|418-8||by Kent||Canterbury||2013||Lost - 2 wkts|
|392||by Kent||Dover||1926||Won - 33 runs|
|382-5||by Kent||Dover||1939||Lost - 5 wkts|
|376-4||by Worcs||New Road, Worcester||1905||Drawn|
|375||by Warwicks||Edgbaston||2010||Won - 65 runs|
|373||by Hants||Southport||2013||Won - 122 runs|
The hosts resumed day four on 32-1. They were boosted by 70 from opener Sam Northeast and a brilliant counter-attacking 205 not out from all-rounder Darren Stevens. He faced 218 balls and hit 21 fours and three sixes. Adam Ball also hit a career best 69.
Kent even had to call upon opener Rob Key to come out and bat at number ten with a broken left thumb with 29 to win.
Former Leicestershire man Stevens shared in partnerships of 82 for the fourth wicket with Northeast, 71 for the fifth with wicketkeeper Sam Billings (24) and 148 inside 35 overs for the sixth with Ball.
An attacking batsman by nature, Stevens played with extra freedom today. He uppercut Luke Procter for six and cut him for four next ball before lunch and moved to his hundred midway through the afternoon session off 111 balls with 13 fours and one six.
Kyle Jarvis struck first this morning in the first full over of the day to leave Kent two down for 39. He had Brendan Nash caught behind by Alex Davies, the wicketkeeper’s first catch of the match.
Smith then struck with his first ball of the morning when he trapped Ben Harmison lbw to leave the score at 60-3 in the 16th over, but that brought about a period of Kent dominance rather than more wickets.
Stevens and Northeast and Stevens and Billings both united for 17.1 overs. Northeast fell just before lunch and Billings afterwards. Northeast was trapped lbw by Procter with 142 on the board and Billings neatly caught behind by a tumbling Davies off Smith.
With Kent at 213-5 in the 50th over, Lancashire were back on track. But, unfortunately for them, Stevens and Ball set about turning the game on its head. They took the score to 305-5 at tea, needing another 113 and brought up their century stand just after tea. Ball also posted his maiden fifty off 86 balls as the target dropped below 100.
The pair batted superbly to put Lancashire under the cosh. Ball offered a chance to Smith at cover off Stephen Parry on 57, but the fielder failed to cling on to a one-handed effort.
By the time their alliance was broken by Smith, who trapped Ball lbw with the second new ball, Kent needed 57 at 361-6. Stevens had earlier reached 150 off 182 balls.
Oliver Newby, with the second new ball in his hand, then had James Tredwell caught at first slip and Mark Davies lbw within four balls in the 88th over to leave the score at 389-8.
But Stevens, who reached 200 off 216 balls, steered his side home with two fours in three balls off Newby in the 92nd over.
Picture: Oliver Newby bowls to Kent's Darren Stevens (c) Barry Mitchell