Zak Crawley scores back-to-back fifties as Kent draw with Northamptonshire

Opener's form will be welcome news for England

Kent 519 for 9 declared (Compton 140, Bell-Drummond 83, Crawley 62, Leaning 62, Stewart 61) and 170 for 1 (Crawley 84, Compton 68*) drew with Northamptonshire 430 (Procter 76, Vasconcelos 71, McManus 58*)

England opener Zak Crawley scored a second half-century of this LV= Insurance County Championship match against Northamptonshire, providing a much-needed boost ahead of the first Test against New Zealand.

While the intensity and pace of the bowling did not match what Crawley can expect to face at Lord’s next month, Crawley’s form will still be welcome news for the new England management.

With little riding on the day as the game drifted towards a draw, Crawley settled for some time in the middle, sharing a 149-run opening stand with Ben Compton. He struck the ball cleanly and crisply and accumulated seven boundaries and a six on his way to 84, It followed his first innings of 62 and marks a return to form for the opener after a string of low scores saw many questioning his England selection.

Finally the two sides shook hands on the draw with Kent at 170 for 1.

Northamptonshire started the day needing 23 more runs to avoid the threat of the follow-on. Matt Quinn and Darren Stevens kept things tight early on during a tense opening 20 minutes which saw Tom Taylor fall, caught at second slip, without a run being added in five overs.

Gareth Berg opted for the attacking option, taking the Steelbacks to the brink of safety by smiting George Linde for six over long-on while Lewis McManus, batting with an injured finger, posted a hugely valuable undefeated fifty, his second since joining Northamptonshire on loan this season.

Ben Sanderson freed his arms, unfurling a string of crunching cover drives in a last-wicket stand with McManus worth 54 before Daniel Bell-Drummond ended the fun by knocking back Sanderson’s off-stump just before lunch.

After the interval, Crawley showed intent from the outset with a straight driven boundary off Sanderson. Northamptonshire’s opening bowlers though kept things tight and Crawley and Ben Curran were content to play the ball on merit and leave well alone outside off.

Northamptonshire fluffed the chance of an early wicket when there was a mix-up between the batters, leaving Compton scrabbling to regain his ground, but both Luke Procter’s throw in from mid-on and sub keeper Harry Gouldstone’s shy at the stumps were both slightly wide.

Crawley got into the groove with two late cuts off Sanderson and Taylor and he played some pleasant cover drives for three. He also displayed some aggression with a clubbed four over mid-off to Rob Keogh and a crunching extra cover drive off Emilio Gay. He used his feet to come down the track and hit Curran’s slow bowling over long-on for six. One rare miss-hit came via an inside edge down to fine leg off Procter on 40 but he otherwise located the middle of the bat with ease and timed the ball sweetly.

At the other end Compton continued in the typically sedate fashion that has proved so productive for him this season before accelerating on his way to 68. He cut and drove handsomely, surviving one moment of danger when a thick outside edge off a ball from Keogh flew away for four.

After tea, Northamptonshire turned to their part-time bowlers to see out the remaining overs. Crawley’s innings ended finally after 138 balls when he hit Curran straight to long-on.