For a club who have traditionally punched above their weight, this season has been somewhat chastening for Kent. Relegated for the first time to the Second Division in 2008, the county have spent five months reacquainting themselves with some of the domestic game's less glamorous addresses, but their purgatory may be almost at an end. A six-wicket victory over Surrey – another famous name fallen on mediocre times – at Canterbury yesterday means Kent are on the brink of a return to the top flight.
They were forced to work much harder for the win than could have been expected at 11am. Surrey began the day on 148 for 5, just 54 runs ahead with, in the absence of Mark Ramprakash, only four wickets remaining. By lunch they had progressed to 221 for 7: the two men out were Chris Schofield, bowled by Amjad Khan for 36 while Jade Dernbach scored 16 before he was caught by Darren Stevens at backward point. If that was frustrating for the hosts, what happened after lunch redoubled the pain: Surrey, led by Stuart Meaker, who hit 64, battled to 293, setting Kent a victory target of 200.
Rob Key led the chase, firing 50 from 55 balls while Sam Northeast, who looks to have the ability to follow Joe Denly into the England set-up, hit 28. They both fell with more than 100 still needed but Kent nonetheless made short work of the target, racking up a seventh win of the season that leaves them some 28 points ahead of the pack with a game in hand.
Two sides with ambitions in the Pro40 First Division, Worcestershire and Hampshire, met at Worcester yesterday and only the hosts realistically remain in the battle to become the final winners of that competition. Set 221 to win in their 40 overs, the Midlands side had Steve Davies, who hit 100 in 67 balls, and Vikram Solanki (82no) to thank as they strolled to victory by seven wickets with 63 balls to spare. They are a point behind Sussex, who head the table with two games still to play.