Worcestershire v Kent: Matt Coles shines as Joe Leach's men turn up heat at New Road


Worcestershire captain Joe Leach took his season’s haul to 36 first-class wickets
Specsavers County Championship Division Two, New Road:
Kent 260: Coles 47, Northeast 42; Leach 3-42, Tongue 3-56
Worcestershire 95-3: Moeen 37, Clarke 34*; Coles 2-28
Worcestershire trail Kent by 165 runs with 7 wickets remaining
Worcestershire 3 pts; Kent 3 pts

England’s Moeen Ali made 37 and took a wicket on his return to County Championship duty in the meeting of second against third in Division Two.

But on a sizzlingly hot first day when 13 wickets fell at New Road, it was pretty much honours even as the hosts closed on 95-3, in reply to Kent’s 260.

Kent were on 139-7 after three wickets for Joe Leach before Matt Coles hit 47 in a 79-run stand with Adam Rouse (34).

Worcestershire then rallied well late on themselves after slumping to 48-3.

A baking day in soaring temperatures began with home captain Leach bowling an inspired opening spell of 7-3-7-2 from the New Road end after Kent had opted to bat.

He took three wickets, as did teenage paceman Josh Tongue (3-56), before the hosts ended the day still trailing by 165 runs, but with Joe Clarke set on 34 not out, having so far put on 47 with the recalled George Rhodes (16 not out).

Worcestershire ring the changes

Following successive Championship defeats, batsman Rhodes’ inclusion for a first Championship start of the season, instead of paceman Jack Shantry, was one of three changes.

Moeen replaced the out-of-form Tom Fell, while Australian all-rounder John Hastings came in to take two wickets in his first game since coming back from Champions Trophy duty to replace compatriot Nathan Lyon.

Kent were unchanged from the dramatic draw with Durham, which maintained their unbeaten start to the season, but this is the start of a tough run of three Championship matches away from their Canterbury headquarters.

After taking on Worcestershire, they visit current leaders Nottinghamshire for the inaugural round of day-night games, starting on 26 June, and then it is back to one of their outgrounds on Monday 3 July, for a home game with Northamptonshire at Beckenham.

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