county championship darren stevens stars as kent take control against nottinghamshire - County Championship: Darren Stevens stars as Kent take control against Nottinghamshire
Darren Stevens is leaving Kent at the end of the season after 15 years with the club
Specsavers County Championship Division One, Trent Bridge (day one):
Kent 304: Stevens 88, Kuhn 56, Bell-Drummond 45; Ashwin 4-121, Coughlin 3-37
Notts 35-2: Slater 18*, Milnes 1-9, Stevens 1-15
Notts (3 pts) trail Kent (3 pts) by 269 runs

Darren Stevens scored 88 off 90 balls as Kent made 304 against bottom-of-the-table Nottinghamshire to all but ensure Division One status for next season.

The 43-year-old’s efforts mean Notts already face a tough ask to keep alive their slim hope of avoiding relegation.

All-rounder Stevens arrived at the crease with Kent in trouble at 119-5 after Ravi Ashwin claimed four wickets.

Paul Coughlin (3-37) removed Stevens, who then helped reduce Notts to 35-2 at the end of day one at Trent Bridge.

But it was Stevens’ heroics with the bat that caused the main damage to the hosts.

By the time he was last man out – caught on the fence by Jake Ball as he closed in on 34th career hundred – Notts had seen their chances of a first four-day win in their 12th fixture of the season start to fade.

They must secure victory, and then beat relegation rivals Warwickshire and Surrey to stand any realistic chance of staying up.

But they still need other results to go their way in this round of fixtures, while Kent need just one more point from to be absolutely certain of staying up.

Former South African international Heino Kuhn (56) and Daniel Bell-Drummond (45) were the other main contributors for the visitors, although Ollie Rayner did hit an entertaining one-day-style 26 off just 19 balls.

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In the Notts reply, Stevens pinned Jake Libby lbw with just his sixth delivery and Matthew Milnes bowled Chris Nash to leave them two down heading into day two.

Notts assistant head coach Paul Franks:

“I think we were excellent in the first session, but we perhaps didn’t hold them in the second session with the same economy that we would have liked.

“At times we bowled really well in partnerships and at other times we leaked too many runs. Darren Stevens played well, so all credit to him for that. He mixed his aggression well and at times his decision-making was strong and he played some good shots.

I think we’ve seen a pitch that has got a bit in it for all of the bowlers and hopefully we can work hard tomorrow in that first session and build a platform where we can go and put a first innings total on the board that we are happy with.”

Kent head coach Matt Walker:

“I’m pleased with that. At the start of the day we were a little bit unsure what that wicket was going to do really but it felt like a ‘Bat First’. It was a used wicket, so we felt that was the best way of going about things.

“I thought we applied ourselves really well in the first session but in the middle session we started to accelerate and be more positive and take the game to them. I think 300 – well, we’ll find out if it’s a good first innings score or not – but I’m pretty happy with that.

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“To then pick up two wickets at the end, overall, it’s a good day.”

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