Geraint Jones dragged Kent out of a hole yesterday against fourth-placed Lancashire as he made his highest score in the Championship since July last year.
The former England wicketkeeper arrived at the crease with his county in dire straits, the cream of the batting back in the changing room and the Lancashire pack of bowlers, scenting blood, in full cry.
Jones passed fifty for only the second time this season, a patient effort, and one which earned Kent their first batting bonus point, something they had looked unlikely to get earlier in the day. During his three-hour-plus stint at the crease he shared in a 52-run sixth-wicket stand with Ryan McLaren and one of 45 with James Tredwell for the seventh. He finished on 80 not out.
It has been an uneasy month for Kent and their captain, Robert Key. At the start of it they were sitting in third position in the County Championship, were contemplating two finals – the Twenty20 Cup and the Friends Provident Trophy – and all seemed right with the world.
They entered this match as the beaten finalists in the two knock-out competitions and as the seventh-placed team in the First Division, coming in to it on the back of two defeats and a draw.
Unsurprisingly, given that poor run, they began haltingly after winning the toss against Lancashire. They had lost three crucial wickets with just a half-century on the board, and one of those was that of Key, whose run of luck – most of it bad – for the last four weeks seemed to have set him up for yesterday's dismissal.
Having been touted as a possible replacement for the England captain, Michael Vaughan, he found himself overlooked in favour of Kevin Pietersen. He then captained England Lions to defeat against the South Africans last week and was given out caught behind in the FP Trophy final at Lord's when he did not get a touch.
Yesterday Joe Denly's return drive to Sajid Mahmood was deflected on to the stumps by the bowler's hand with Key having backed up, stranded out of his ground.
Kent wobbled for a while after that with Denly cutting Dominic Cork straight to gully to give Mal Loye – back after a six-week absence – the first of three catches during the day.
Martin van Jaarsveld soon followed, another Cork victim, and just when Darren Stevens and Neil Dexter looked to have turned things around, taking Kent into three figures, the latter gave Loye his second catch. Stevens departed four overs later, which left Jones to salvage what he could.