Published: 08:00, 22 May 2014
Matt Walker refused to blame the Kent batsmen despite the capitulations at Bristol which left Kent scrambling to avoid their heaviest ever defeat.
Kent bowled the hosts out for 252 on the opening evening but then endured a nightmare final hour as Rob Key departed for a first-ball duck, Daniel Bell-Drummond and Brendan Nash followed without scoring while Sam Northeast nicked behind for one, leaving Kent reeling on 2-4 in the fourth over.
Kent were 33-7 in the first over of day two but Sam Billings (42) and Adam Ball (37) put on 68 for the eighth wicket to avoid the follow-on before Kent were dismissed for 114.
Darren Stevens took 5-87 in the second Gloucestershire innings but Hamish Marshall made 118, Alex Gidman and Gareth Roderick 85 and Benny Howell 63 from 37 balls to take the hosts to 443-6dec and leave Kent chasing a world record 582 to win.
Key (3) and Nash (9) again fell to the new ball while Bell-Drummond completed a pair of ducks to leave Kent on 24-3 in reply, with Northeast (20) and Stevens (10) leaving Kent five down and more than 500 adrift, though 67 from Sam Billings and Ben Harmison career best 125 helped ensure the margin of defeat was ‘merely’ 290 runs.
Assistant coach Walker said: “It was a bit of a mad hour. Every time they bowled a good ball we managed to nick it.
“There’s no way you can look at those dismissals and blame the batsmen... it’s not their fault. It was not poor decision-making or reckless shots. They all got out to good balls.
“They just bowled well and it caught us cold. It was an uphill fight from there.”
He added: “It takes your breath away at the time and you think ‘my God, what’s happening here?’ It was freakish. Before you know it, you’re four down without any runs on the board.”
He added: “Before that, I thought we’d done pretty well to keep them to a decent score and carried on from where we’d been the last two games. It was a good start.”
Billings found himself digging in in both innings in a bid to save his side and Walker added: “As a coach, you always look for positives.
“In a tough situation, Sam showed great character and maturity beyond – what we want to see from young players, standing up in times of adversity and showing what they’re made of.
“The positive from their second innings was Stevo’s five-fer, he bowled well and stuck at it
when things weren’t going our way.
“They got through the new-ball well and then batting became a lot easier.
“When you have a lead of 140 going into the second innings, you approach things differently and play with freedom. They played well, they were positive and made it hard
for us. When you get on top like that, it’s easy to keep going.”
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