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Kent batsman Sam Northeast admits to relief after landing his first century in two seasons after return to 1st XI action

By Alex Hoad

Sam Northeast admitted to relief after his exile from Kent first-team duty ended with his first Championship century for almost two years.

The 24-year-old vice-captain had already lost his opening place to Daniel Bell-Drummond this season when he was dropped to the 2nd XI altogether after returns of one and two in the Championship game against Essex.

At that point, Northeast had scored just 178 Championship runs in 12 innings for an average of less than 15, with more than half his runs coming in the form of two half-centuries.

Fabian Cowdrey came in at No.3 for the Division 2 trip to Glamorgan and visit of Derbyshire to Canterbury last month with Northeast tasked by coach Jimmy Adams to spend time in the middle while away from the first team.

Northeast produced an immediate response, hitting 135 and 93 in the 2nds’ game against Gloucestershire at Maidstone and then 120 and 102 in two innings against Sussex’s second string in their next three-day game at Fulking.

Sam Northeast in action at the Mote. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Sam Northeast in action at the Mote. Picture: Barry Goodwin

His form led to a recall for the trip to Leicester last week and although he only made six in the first innings, an unbeaten 112 in the final innings steered Kent to their first back-to-back wins in more than two years and his first Championship ton since the visit of Derbyshire in September 2012.

Northeast admitted: “It was nice to get the boys over the line. I’d spent a bit of time away but I came back feeling in good nick.

“It’s definitely a step-up to be back playing in the first-team but the time away and getting the runs has built confidence.

“I have hit a bit of form and that is always nice. As a personal achievement, coming back to the first-team so soon is pleasing. It was a bit of relief for me. Everyone wants to score runs and make centuries – I was happy to get back to it.”

Northeast’s match-winning knock came with him batting at No.5, a role he’s keen to continue.

He said: “I don’t know where my career is going to take me, in terms of where I bat but I am happy as I am now. It’s going to be tough to get the No.5 off me now.”

The consecutive wins took Kent into the upper reaches of the table and sparked hopes of a push for promotion in the final six games of the campaign, beginning against Surrey at Guildford on Sunday.

Northeast admitted: “We were pleased with the win at Leicester and we are on a bit of a roll in four-day cricket now with back-to-back wins.

“We have got one over on Surrey already this season and we know we can do it against them. Hopefully, we can continue the good run.

“It’s the perfect time, really. It’s never too late to go on a winning run. (Leaders) Worcester have been up there all year but Ajmal has now gone and you never know what might be around the corner.”

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