Nineteen wickets wickets fell on an action-packed opening day of the Specsavers County Championship match between Glamorgan and Kent at Sophia Gardens, Cardiff as firstly, Glamorgan lost ten wickets for 37 runs in a remarkable hour and a quarter’s play after lunch as they were dismissed for 94 after being put in by Kent with Darren Stevens, who last year at Swansea struck a record number of sixes in a one-day game, grabbing the headlines with the ball as the 42 year-old all-rounder claimed 6/26 and extracted generous lateral movement in the overcast conditions. Then it was the turn of the visitors to struggle as Timm van der Gugten claimed Championship-best figures of 6/40 as Kent ended the day on 163/9.
Kent were 40/3 when play began after tea in the overcast conditions with Denly striking the first boundary of the session as he clipped Hogan to mid-wicket before Zak Crawley pulled de Lange for four, followed by a pair of nonchalant on-drives for four against Hogan. Both batsmen continued to drive with authority before Timm van der Gugten and David Lloyd had a spell in tandem.
Crawley unfurled a pair of cover driven fours before Denly struck successive balls from van der Gugten through extra cover as Kent moved into three figures. But the Dutchman made the perfect riposte as next ball he removed the visiting captain l.b.w. with a full length delivery. He then made further inroads in his next over as, with the total on 111, Stevens miscued a drive into de Lange’s hands at mid-on before David Lloyd got amongst the wickets as four runs later, he trapped Crawley l.b.w. with a full length delivery and then, with the total on 118, having Will Gidman safely pouched at second slip by Nick Selman.
Matt Henry then used the long handle to waft van der Gugten to long-off and for four to square-leg but the seamer claimed his fifth wicket as, with the total on 141, the Kiwi spooned a ball to Hogan at mid-off. Lloyd almost had Harry Podmore caught twice in an over in the slip cordon, but van der Gugten continued his wicket spree as Adam Rouse chopped the ball onto his stumps before a couple of lusty blows by Harry Podmore saw Kent to the 150-mark.
Podmore also thick-edged de Lange for four over third slip when the paceman returned, followed by an orthodox on-drive for four before bad light brought an early finish on 163/9.
With Glamorgan resuming after lunch on 57/0, a few people had doubted Kent’s decision to bowl first in the cloudy conditions but within an hour and a quarter of the resumption, the home side had been dismissed for 94 as ten wickets tumbled for 37 in the space of 16.4 overs with Darren Stevens claiming 4/7 in the space of 31 balls.
The first wicket came to the second ball of the session as Nick Selman was adjudged l.b.w. as he played forward to Stevens. Shaun Marsh began with a booming cover drive for four against Matt Henry before Jack Murphy did the same against Stevens. But Marsh’s tenure of the crease proved to be a brief one as with the total on 66 he edged a delivery from Matt Henry.
One run later Kent were further rewarded for their accuracy as Stevens trapped Kiran Carlson l.b.w. with the visitors securing their first bowling point. Six runs later Aneurin Donald was bowled by the evergreen all-rounder who claimed his fourth wicket, with the total on 77, as the umpire upheld another appeal for l.b.w against Chris Cooke. Henry nearly removed David Lloyd but the thick outside edge evaded the gully fielder and ran away for four.
Murphy then steered Stevens through point for four, before Henry claimed his second scalp as Lloyd edged into Rouse’s gloves as Glamorgan slipped to 86/6. Their nosedive continued in Stevens’ next over as he had Andrew Salter l.b.w. before dismissing Marchant de Lange with his next delivery as the pace bowler edged to Heino Kuhn at second slip. With Glamorgan on 91/8, Timm van der Gugten survived the hat-trick ball but next over he became another l.b.w victim for Henry who then removed Michael Hogan’s middle stump with his next delivery as the 42 year-old Stevens led his team off the field with figures of 16-6-26-6.
The clatter of wickets left the steadfast Jack Murphy 39 not out as the tall opener carried his bat, with his score being the lowest for 96 years for the Welsh county by an opener in first-class cricket who remained unbeaten throughout a completed innings, with Tom Morgan having made an unbeaten 22 against Yorkshire at Cardiff Arms Park in 1922.
Daniel Bell-Drummond and Sean Dickson launched Kent’s reply with the later on-driving van der Gugten, before the former thick edged de Lange to third man. But with the total on 18, Sean Dickson became another l.b.w. victim as Timm van der Gugten struck the opener on his pads to claim his 100th wicket in all first-class cricket. Heino Kuhn joined Bell-Drummond who again thick-edged de Lange just wide of the gully fielder, but the South African batsman had his off-stump removed by Hogan in his opening over.
25/2 then became 29/3 as Bell-Drummond became another l.b.w. victim for van der Gugten. Denly responded by unfurling a pair of off-drives for four against Hogan as Kent reached 40/3 at tea.
7th September 2007 was the last time Kent played a match at the Cardiff ground when it was known as Sophia Gardens, with the 40-over contest seeing Glamorgan, led then by David Hemp, restricted to 178/7 before a century by Rob Key saw Kent to an eight-wicket victory. Joe Denly and Darren Stevens both played in the game in 2007, with the former, now leading Kent in the current contest, exerted his right as visiting captain to bowl first.
Glamorgan, who rested Lukas Carey, recalled Marchant de Lange to their line-up with Nick Selman and Jack Murphy opening the batting against the evergreen Darren Stevens and Kiwi international Matt Henry. Selman nurdled Stevens through the slips for four as the new ball pairing delivered a probing spell missing the outside edge of each batsmen, before Selman off-drove Stevens for four.
Henry also found the edge of Selman’s bat but the ball flew through the slip cordon before the opener drilled the next delivery to the board at long-off. Murphy also guided Harry Podmore through backward point for four but this was a rare boundary during a parsimonious spell by the visiting seamers, with Harry Podmore and Ivan Thomas continuing the frugality besides generating some lateral movement in the overcast conditions.
But the sequence of dot balls was ended as Selman struck successive balls from Thomas to the ropes at square-leg and backward point before the watchful Murphy cover drove Thomas for four, followed by a late cut for four against Denly to bring up the fifty.