Published: 20:30, 21 May 2022
| Updated: 20:30, 21 May 2022
Kent need three quick wickets on the final day of their LV= County Championship clash with Northants.
The hosts closed day three on 347-7, edging closer to saving the follow-on but still with work to do when play resumes on Sunday morning.
Kent bowling coach Simon Cook said: “The discipline throughout the whole of the day was brilliant with all of the bowlers and we got the rewards at the end of the day.
"You’ve just got to hope we can get a couple of quick ones tomorrow and we can enforce the follow-on if that's possible.
“It will come down to the first half an hour. On these sorts of pitches, it's tough. And hopefully that kind of nervousness around getting close to that total will mean that we can capitalise on that.
"It’s, realistically, the only way we'll probably be able to force a result.
“The difference from this game to some of the other games is we held our lengths for longer. When things weren't really happening, we created a lot of opportunities with the new ball.
"There’s lots going past the outside edge, but once that new ball went away and it got a bit softer, our disciplines were much better either staying very straight or going into the channel and that brought the rewards.
"Once you can hold your lines and hold your lengths, it's much easier to set fields and then suddenly those balls kind of go and get clipped to midwicket where we had a couple of catches and the game suddenly feels a little bit easier and you feel like you can control the game for bigger periods.
"It's very nice to have 500 on the board first up as well. It’s the first time we've really led a game this year and it shows that when we can get on top, we're a very strong side. Our challenge going forwards is can we wrestle games back into our favour when it hasn't gone quite so well in that first innings.
“There are positive signs [from this game]. Jas Singh coming into this game bowled a couple of really good spells, controlled one side of the ground, forced some mistakes and an important wicket of Josh Cobb at the end."
Resuming on 21-2, Northamptonshire negotiated an extended morning session for the loss of only night-watchman Matt Kelly who was resolute in defence but aggressive in attack. He had extended his partnership with Ricardo Vasconcelos to 61 when he was trapped in front by Matt Quinn (2-75).
Vasconcelos (71) played a controlled innings, scoring all around the wicket, sweeping, driving and cutting fluently. He began the afternoon session in confident mood, hitting two fours off each of the first two overs but the turned one from Darren Stevens (2-52) straight to square leg to leave the hosts 134-4.
Luke Procter had been initially content to let Vasconcelos take the lead but after the captain’s wicket he too started to find the boundary. George Linde had got the ball to turn and bounce causing some problems initially, but Procter started to use his feet. He came down the track to Linde to dispatch him nonchalantly through mid-wicket for four before hitting the same bowler down the ground for six more to move to his half-century.
Kent took the new ball after tea and at first Rob Keogh (45) seemed to enjoy the extra pace on the ball, taking seven runs off two balls from Stevens. However, a quicker delivery from Quinn took him by surprise and kept low, before hitting top of middle and off, leaving Northants 230-5.
Procter, who looked set to add to his two centuries so far this summer, then met his downfall in a moment of indecision when he failed to withdraw his bat after deciding against playing a cut shot to Grant Stewart and was caught behind for 76, his side 265-6.
Josh Cobb (41) started aggressively, smashing Quinn through extra cover for a boundary to open his account and then taking two more off the same bowler’s next over. He put on a quickfire stand of 52 with Lewis McManus to bring up the third batting point before playing one big stroke too many, caught off the leading edge when he took on Jas Singh. Tom Taylor then joined McManus in an unbroken stand worth 30 to see out the day.