Read in bloom as Notts climb to top of the tree

Nottinghamshire 462 Kent 274-5 (Kent trail by 188 runs)

The rhododendrons were in their purple glory yesterday; the hedges and the trees looking bright spring green. The Nevill Ground in its late spring finery is one of the most delectable in the country.

The hot weather attracted a good Saturday crowd of 2,500, and by late afternoon they were enjoying the surroundings rather more than Kent's batsmen.

Their bowlers had made life difficult for them from the start. In 75 minutes in the morning Nottinghamshire had extended their first-innings total to a comfortable 462. Five batting points had taken them to the top of the Division One table and, since none of their rivals are playing, they will stay there.

Chris Read, composed, modest and efficient, took his score to 112 not out in 165 minutes – the ground announcer declared that Read had put the ton in Tunbridge Wells – and sturdy performances from the tail added 200 for the last five wickets. They had seen enough of the pitch to define it as slow, dry and a bit sticky.

The Nottinghamshire attack were looking forward to bowling on it, especially after Joe Denly was caught by David Hussey in the slips off Darren Pattinson's first ball.

Rob Key, Kent's captain, has had only one decent Championship innings all season, but he stuck at it while Geraint Jones rattled off 37 in 60 balls before Hussey took an edge in the slips off Andre Adams, who was finding the pitch to his liking.

A somnolent interlude in which Key gnawed his way into the twenties ended suddenly when Martin van Jaarsfeld brought up the hundred with a six in a over from Graeme White that cost 14 runs. But he got carried away and slashed an edge to Read behind the stumps off Adams.

The promising Sam Northeast became Adams's third victim shortly after tea, leaving the burden to Key. He began to speed up and hit a six to mid-wicket to bring up his 50. It felt as if his ordeal might be coming to an end. Not so. When he was given out caught off an edge while sweeping, he paused on his way to the pavilion, and if looks could kill the umpires, Jeff Evans and Nigel Llong, would not have survived.

Kent were 176 for 5, and the burden had been inherited by Darren Stevens, who took to the task manfully, scoring his sixth 50 of the season. By the close he had made 80 off 83 balls, putting on 98 with James Tredwell (35no), but Kent still had a long way to go.