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Darren Stevens scores whirlwind 190 from 149 balls to blow away Glamorgan at Canterbury


Glamorgan 55 for 2 trail Kent 307 (Stevens 190, van der Gugten 4-34, Neser 4-67) by 252 runs

The oldest swinger in town was at it again in Canterbury, clubbing the ball to all parts, defying age and occasionally defying logic. Darren Stevens played one of the most remarkable attacking innings witnessed in the Championship for many a year as he again underlined his status as one of the most notable servants county cricket has ever known.

Stevens’ resounding assault on Glamorgan’s bowling, glorious in its simplicity, brought him 190 from 149 balls. Kent, at one time 128 for 8, made 307 as he walloped 15 sixes and 15 fours. On a day of strong breezes which bent tree branches, removed umpires’ caps and caused advertising boards to take flight, the Stevens whirlwind settled in the middle of the square and caused the most damage of all.

At 45 years and 21 days, he became the oldest player to score a first-class century since Chris Balderstone (45 years, 247 days) for Leicestershire in 1986. (Geoffrey Boycott might remind you that he was a slightly older 45-year-old when he struck two centuries earlier that year, although without Stevens’ shower of sixes.)

To put things in perspective, before this round of matches the leading six-hitter in the Championship was Nottinghamshire’s Tom Moores… with seven. To further put things into perspective, Stevens entered this game with six single-figure scores on the bounce. In the past two years he has virtually had to talk his way into squeezing another year’s contract. Kent supporters will hope he again has the gift of the gab in September because they are not yet ready to let go. He is a player who can’t be pinned down, who every so often does wondrous things with bat or ball.

How fortunate we feel as we edge gingerly out of this global pandemic, like rabbits out of burrows, to witness cricket so free of guile. How blessed Stevens must feel to still be playing on; he lost his father, who loved watching him play, to a Covid-related illness about a year ago, and lived in a caravan for two weeks on his cousin’s driveway in Leicester so he could talk through the window to his mum, who was self-isolating. Dreadful times, and these are the days that we treasure more strongly as a result.

Greedily for the statisticians, the six that mattered most was the one that got away. If only Stevens had made a sweeter connection with a blow down the ground against the legspin of the Australia Test batsman, Marnus Labuschagne, he would have equalled the most sixes in English first-class cricket, jointly held by Graham Napier and Andrew Symonds. As soon as he hit it, he walked away from the crease, pausing momentarily to glance over his shoulder to confirm that Kiran Carlson had held the catch at long-on.



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