Published: 19:17, 11 July 2021
| Updated: 11:46, 13 July 2021
Kent head coach Matt Walker has revealed he was putting a new-look side together until midnight.
A positive Covid-19 test among the squad that thrashed Surrey in the T20 Blast on Friday night meant Kent had to change their plans at the last minute on Saturday evening.
Walker was entrusted with putting a new team together, adding members of the 2nd XI to the likes of Harry Podmore and Matt Quinn, who did not feature in the T20 game at The Oval.
Walker said: "I think actually after the England situation happened we spoke to the group at Lancashire to take a step back, to go back to where we were last year at the start of the season.
"(We told them) to limit their access to people outside the group, to avoid busy areas like pubs, bars, coffee houses and just make sure we’re doing everything we can to be careful. Ironically, a few days later we had our first case.
“The results came back to us at 7pm last night. Obviously it turned out to be a positive test and the mad scramble started to happen, it was all hands on deck from everyone involved.
"We were prepared in a way that if that test was positive, we had a few players on standby which made things a little bit easier. Trying to organise everything logistically was a bit of a headache, but we got there in the end and managed to get a game on.
“Fortunately half the side weren’t at The Oval so that gave you half a team. We didn’t want to cancel the game, that’s for sure. As much as it was going to be a challenge to get 11 players we felt we could do it.
"It’s Canterbury week, it’s festival week and I think we had a duty to put a team together. It was late to bed, that’s for sure. The phone didn’t stop ringing and pinging with texts until midnight, but as soon as the phone went off I went to sleep very quickly!
"For all the downside of having a squad isolated you get a chance to see what these young players can do.”
Heino Kuhn was named captain of an improvised Kent line-up that included five debutants in Jas Singh, Joe Gordon, Harry Finch, Dan Lincoln and Harry Houillon. They joined regular first-teamers Harry Podmore, Matt Quinn, Nathan Gilchrist and Marcus O’Riordan, while Hamid Qadri was selected for the first time this season.
The start was delayed until noon to allow Kent to register their new players and after winning the toss and choosing to bowl they entered the arena to warm applause.
Sussex’s openers Ali Orr and Tom Haines made 50 without loss, but the former cut Singh and was brilliantly caught by O’Riordan for 21.
Singh then had Haines caught for 25 in his next over, held by Kuhn at first slip after the ball was parried by Finch, leaving Sussex on 51-2 at lunch.
Gilchrist trapped Harrison Ward for four and Travis Head then drove Singh (4-51) to Kuhn for 12. Singh, an 18-year-old who plays for Bexley, claimed his fourth wicket when he had Oliver Carter caught behind for 32, making him Houillon’s maiden first-class victim.
Qadri got James Coles lbw with his first ball, Gilchrist had Ibrahim caught behind for six and Podmore swept away the tail, getting Ollie Robinson caught behind for 21 before trapping Sean Hunt lbw and bowling Jamie Atkins, both for nought, to finish with 3-49 as Sussex were 181 all out.
Kent lost opener Gordon, who was lbw to England bowler Robinson for eight, but they advanced to 48-1 before losing four wickets for nine runs in 21 balls.
Atkins (3-21) had O’Riordan lbw for 18, bowled Kuhn for eight and Lincoln for nought. Robinson had Houillon lbw for a duck before bad light stopped play at 6.50pm, with Finch 24 not out and Podmore unbeaten on three.
Kent will resume on day two at 69-5, trailing Sussex by 112 runs.