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Kent (362-8) trail Worcestershire (618-7dec) by 256 runs after Jack Leaning scores unbeaten hundred at Canterbury in County Championship

Jack Leaning’s first County Championship hundred in 20 months gave Kent a fighting chance of escaping with a draw against Worcestershire at Canterbury.

The hosts reached 362-8 at stumps on day three of their Vitality County Championship clash thanks largely to Leaning’s unbeaten 152.

Jack Leaning - scored 152 not out for Kent against Worcestershire. Picture: Keith Gillard
Jack Leaning - scored 152 not out for Kent against Worcestershire. Picture: Keith Gillard

It was Leaning’s first ton since his excellent 112 at Hampshire in September 2022.

“It was really enjoyable to be honest,” said Leaning. “On a personal note I’ve probably not had the explosive start to the season that I would have liked so I was keen to try and make an impact today and luckily I’ve had a decent day with the bat.

“I was pretty disappointed that I didn’t get a century last year. I probably let a few things get to me a little bit more than they should have done, coupled with the tough end to the season and trying to stay up.

“This year I’m just trying to help in every way I can with Deebs (Daniel Bell-Drummond) and actually (get) back to concentrating on scoring runs myself. Hopefully, this can kickstart me on to getting a few big scores.

“I just tried to stay in the moment and enjoy it because it’s much better out there feeling tired than it is sat watching, so I just take it ball by ball and keep focused on my routines.

“It’s a really slow pitch so it’s quite tough to score if they hit their areas and it’s just getting lower and lower, but credit to them, they bowled really well and didn’t really give us much. Hopefully, we can do something tomorrow and get a draw.

“Beyers looks a seriously good player. He hits the ball really cleanly and I imagine there will be a few people looking forward to seeing him when we get the white ball in a few weeks time.

“I liked the way he bowled as well, on a slightly quicker pitch with a bit more life in it he’d have got his rewards.”

Kent still trail by 256 but Leaning batted through all three sessions and Beyers Swanepoel made 54 on his debut to boost their hopes of grinding out a draw on day four.

Matthew Waite took 3-51 but, on a wicket that offered little joy for the bowlers, Worcestershire took just six wickets during a sapping day in the field.

Kent began day three on 111-2 and were untroubled for the first half-hour, Leaning reaching fifty for the first time in 11 first-class innings when he cut Nathan Smith through backward point.

But Waite produced a double blow, bowling skipper Daniel Bell-Drummond for 67, when he clipped his off stump with a straight one, and then trapping Joe Denly lbw for a five-ball duck to leave Kent 135-4.

Leaning and Harry Finch steadied the ship, steering Kent to 179-4 at lunch. But after surviving for 106 balls, Finch tried to drive Waite and was caught at cover by Rob Jones for 26. That, however, was the visitors’ only success during the afternoon session.

Having batted for exactly five hours, Leaning reached three figures just before tea when he drove Jason Holder through cow corner and although Joey Evison edged both Gibson’s final two balls before tea, neither carried to Holder at slip, leaving the hosts on 250-5.

It proved a short-lived reprieve, however, as Evison bottom-edged Waite behind in the second over after the resumption on 27.

Leaning and Swanepoel had to resist the urge to go all-out for a second batting point, but they came frustratingly close, falling just three runs short at the 110-over mark. Leaning cracked the first ball of the next over for four.

Swanepoel belied a jittery start and played with increasing fluency, although he rode his luck at times, nearly chopping Holder on to the stumps for the two that saw him reach his half-century, before he was eventually lbw to Brett D’Oliveira in the 122nd.

Leaning passed 150 and the game seemed to be meandering until Kashif Ali gave the visitors some renewed momentum when he bowled Wes Agar for six with the final ball of the penultimate over, to set up a potentially fascinating final day.

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