Robinson and Atkins put Sussex on top against Covid-hit Kent

Sussex reduced a Kent side depleted by a Covid scare to 69 for five on day one of their LV= Insurance County Championship match at Canterbury, leaving them 112 behind the visitors’ first innings score of 181, writes Fred Atkins.
Jamie Atkins took 3-21 for Sussex at Canterbury / Picture: GettyJamie Atkins took 3-21 for Sussex at Canterbury / Picture: Getty
Jamie Atkins took 3-21 for Sussex at Canterbury / Picture: Getty

Jamie Atkins took three for 21 and Ollie Robinson two for 21, as Kent’s makeshift top order failed to build on their best red-ball bowling display of the season. 19-year-old debutant Jas Singh took four for 51 and Harry Podmore three for 49, while James Coles was Sussex’s top scorer with 36.

Singh was only selected after a positive PCR test forced 14 members of Kent’s first-team squad into isolation.

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Kent’s preparations for Canterbury Week were thrown into chaos when an unidentified member of the Vitality Blast side that beat Surrey on Friday tested positive for COVID. As his team mates were all identified as close contacts, Heino Kuhn was named captain of an improvised eleven that included five debutants: Singh, Joe Gordon, Harry Finch, Dan Lincoln and Harry Houillon, 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 for two at lunch.

Gilchrist trapped Harrison Ward for four and Travis Head then drove Singh to Kuhn for 12. Singh claimed his fourth wicket when he had Oliver Carter caught behind for 32, making him Houillon’s maiden first-class victim.

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Qadri got 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.

However, Kent’s batsmen struggled to emulate the bowlers’ heroics. Gordon was lbw to Robinson for eight, before Atkins had O’Riordan lbw for 18. The latter then 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.