Northamptonshire 21 for 2 trail Kent 519 for 9 dec (Compton 140, Bell-Drummond 83, Crawley 62, Leaning 62, Stewart 61) by 498 runs
Jack Leaning and Grant Stewart scored contrasting half-centuries as Kent piled on the runs on a rain-affected day two of their LV= Insurance County Championship clash with Northamptonshire.
Captain Leaning ground his way to a 120-ball fifty to build on the fine work of Ben Compton, who ended with 140, and Zak Crawley and Daniel Bell-Drummond’s half-centuries.
On the other hand, Stewart was given a licence and used it to bash five sixes in 34 deliveries on his route to the milestone – before he ended up on 61 – as Kent declared on 519 for nine.
All-rounder Stewart and Darren Stevens then made early in-roads by displacing Ben Curran and Emilio Gay as Northamptonshire ended the day on 21 for two – 498 runs behind.
Rain washed out the morning session to leave 66 overs for Kent to rack up a massive first-innings total, having been put in on the first day. Compton continued almost unperturbed from his overnight 125, carefully adding two boundaries to take him to 100 fours for the season.
He departed for 140 when driving to gully, before Jordan Cox chopped Gareth Berg onto his own stumps and Ollie Robinson edged to first slip in a positive eight-over spell for the hosts.
Leaning, who is deputising for Sam Billings as red-ball captain, missed the start of season with a hamstring injury and appeared slow to get his season motoring. He started with a duck and 36 against Yorkshire and a nine in the draw with Surrey last week.
But on this occasion, his wicket was prized with complete protection, with only balls well away from his stumps dispatched to the boundary. It was certainly watchful but allowed the platform for the later chaos by helping to soften the ball.
His half-century, the 29th of his first-class career, was brought up in 120 deliveries with a delicious on drive on the cusp of tea.
Stevens had already fallen cutting behind before Leaning chipped a leading edge back to Tom Taylor for 62. But that brought together the cunning rotation of George Linde and Stewart’s big-hitting.
Stewart has the build of a man perfect to hit a long ball – having struck four sixes in a run-a-ball 90 in his previous innings this year. If further proof was needed of this, his maximum off Rob Keogh which comfortably cleared the Lynn Wilson Indoor School. A conservative estimate measured the strike at 120 metres.
He followed that up with four more altogether tamer sixes, as the tempo raised against a weary Northamptonshire attack. Linde, who had bizarrely been given out run out while backing up only to be recalled, added 38 with Stewart before skying to long on.
Matt Quinn shook off his genuine tailender tag to swat a six and four during a breath-taking 64-runs stand with Stewart in seven overs. He was dropped by Lewis McManus, who damaged his finger in the process, before Stewart exited when lbw to bring about the declaration.
Northamptonshire were given 13 overs to negotiate under the lights and lost Curran when he tamely diverted to mid-wicket. Gay earned a life against the wily Stevens with a tough caught-and-bowled chance but wasn’t so fortunate after he was struck on the pads.