Kent reached the finals day of the Twenty20 Cup for the third year running after coasting to victory over Durham with 16 balls remaining last night. Despite a brave innings by Dale Benkenstein, Kent's superb all-round display was too much as they dismissed Durham for their lowest score in the tournament.
Victory earned Kent an appearance at Edgbaston on 15 August for the climax of the tournament. Kent, who won the Twenty20 Cup in 2007, finished runners-up in a thriller against Middlesex last summer.
The openers Rob Key and Joe Denly laid the foundations for the win, but teenage fast bowler Wayne Parnell, from South Africa, set Durham on the road to defeat with wickets in each of his opening two overs, and late on the off-spinner James Tredwell weighed in with the best return of the night.
Captain Key paid tribute to his bowling attack afterwards. "It was a fantastic performance by the bowlers. It was a great wicket and we knew if you bowled well on it you would get wickets." But Kent do not know whether they will have Parnell's services for finals day. That will depend on whether the South African authorities are prepared to release him, but since the man of the match, Tredwell, picked up three wickets, they do not look short of firepower.
The start to each innings could not have been more different. Whereas Kent set off like an express train, Durham were derailed first ball, Phil Mustard driving Parnell's opening ball straight to Tredwell at mid-off.
Parnell struck again in his next over when he had Durham opener David Warner taken at slip for a duck. That was a costly dismissal for Durham, because they had flown the 22-year-old in from Australia, specifically for this match. Kyle Coetzer rashly stepped out of his crease to the deceptive Simon Cook and was stumped. The bowler then ran out Ian Blackwell from short fine leg with a direct hit.
Captain Will Smith fell to Ryan McLaren, while Gareth Breese, Liam Plunkett and Ben Harmison were all victims of Tredwell. Only Benkenstein stood firm, even hoisting Azhar for a six in what was by then a lost cause.
Earlier Key and Denly smacked the attack around so hard that it had the visitors at sixes and sevens, Smith having called on six bowlers in the first seven overs. The Kent pair rattled along at close to nine an over to reach 69, then came a bizarre sequence featuring Mitch Claydon.
In Harmison's second over Denly pulled a shorter ball towards the long-on boundary, but the bleached head of Claydon could be seen lurking in the deep, like a great white shark. He dived forward and held a very good catch. Three balls later Key attempted a similar shot, to the same fielder, and once more Claydon swallowed up the catch. Geraint Jones was then run out, off-spinner Gareth Breese had Martin van Jaarsveld caught off a reverse sweep, the catcher was Claydon. Thereafter the Kent innings tailed off.Reuse content