Ben Compton beds in once more as Zak Crawley shows hint of form

England batter makes half-century as partner grinds out fourth hundred

Kent 286 for 2 (Compton 125*, Bell-Drummond 83, Crawley 62) vs Northamptonshire

Zak Crawley went some way to justifying his England Test call-up as he collected his highest LV= Insurance County Championship score of the season, but it was his opening partner Ben Compton who once again made the bigger impression.

Eyebrows were raised in some quarters when Kent batter Crawley was named in the squad to face New Zealand next month having averaged under 20 in eight Championship innings in 2022.

But he impressed with a controlled 62, before Compton continued his annus mirabilis by creeping to his fourth century, and seventh score over 50, this season.

Compton ended the day unbeaten on 125 as Kent rang up 286 for two on a batting-friendly day one at Wantage Road.

All eyes were on Crawley after Ricardo Vasconcelos had put Kent in on a wicket which looked like and proved to be good for batting. The first ball he faced was pulled forcefully to the boundary, he edged his second ball just short of second slip before another four off his hips.

The all-action opening slowed into a more sedate pace as both Crawley and Compton left and defended the ball with great skill, albeit with little movement assisting the bowlers. Crawley was particularly patient outside his off stump, with his rare cover drives checked rather than flailed to the rope.

Crawley’s half-century, his second of a disappointing campaign, came in 75 balls, with the opening duo putting on 93. Crawley edged Kelly behind when not committing to either a drive or defence just after lunch to give Northamptonshire hope of a profitable afternoon. That did not transpire.

Compton has been one of county cricket’s finds of the season, having made his Championship debut this season after a spell at Nottinghamshire. While the 28-year-old’s style isn’t aesthetically pleasing, his numbers are incredible and are a testament to his technique and mentality.

In Division One he is: the leading runscorer (795), scored the most centuries (four), faced the most balls (1,960) and clocked up the most boundaries (98). He has now batted for 43 hours and 12 minutes, and has blocked out 1,534 dot balls – in fact, he has faced more dot balls than second-highest facer Sam Hain has seen total balls.

It took him 53 minutes to reach double figures at Wantage Road with his fifty coming in 131 deliveries. There were moments of lucidity, namely a couple of cover drives and a pull which he thought had taken him to three figures. It quickly emerged the scorers had miscounted and he was forced to celebrate his century a second time, this time after a sweep shot.

Daniel Bell-Drummond had replaced Crawley and simply kept the runs steadily amassing in the afternoon, as Northamptonshire dreamed of the second new ball. Bell-Drummond reached his third fifty of the season, but for the first time he couldn’t convert.

He was dropped on 77 by Emilio Gay at second slip, as the second new ball offered more movement than the first, but edged to first slip in the following over for 83. Kent suffered no further causalities as Jack Leaning and Compton remained resolute.