Hampshire 337 for 4 (Vince 111, Gubbins 69, Dawson 63*) lead Kent 305 (Barker 6-53) by 32 runs
These are times of flux in English cricket, and while it is more than four years since Vince’s last Test appearance, he has nevertheless been mentioned in dispatches as a potential captaincy option in the wake of Joe Root’s resignation last week. Though he seems destined to go down as an unfulfilled talent at the highest level, Vince did prove a point when scoring a maiden England hundred against Pakistan in last summer’s ODI series; he is an experienced leader, in good form – this was his third 50-plus score in four innings – and perhaps, as former Kent captain David Fulton suggested on commentary for the livestream, more at ease with his game than during previous assignations.
Daniel Bell-Drummond, Kent’s centurion on day one, had admitted the feeling in the dressing room was “pretty mixed” after they had reached 271 for 7 at the close, and the sense that they had passed up the chance to post a really significant score deepened throughout Vince’s time at the crease. Although he fell shortly after reaching three figures, visibly aghast at steering tamely to slip off Nathan Gilchrist, Dawson proceeded past fifty at a good clip and was joined by Ben Brown in adding another, unbroken partnership before bad light took the players off early.
The wicket of Hampshire opener Ian Holland brought Vince to the crease, and he was quickly into his stride on a true surface, picking off Darren Stevens for three boundaries inside his first 15 balls. Gubbins elected to follow the skipper’s lead, and Kent were made to chase leather through a 20-over period in which the Hampshire pair scored 22 boundaries and took the total on by more than 100.
Vince was the first to raise fifty, from 48 balls with ten crisply struck fours; five of them coming during a costly two-over spell from Jackson Bird, Kent’s Australian seamer. Gubbins, though crabbier in aspect and slightly less secure – he slashed Gilchrist over the cordon on 10 and got away with an edge that didn’t carry, off Matt Milnes, on 33 – unfurled several good-looking strokes of his own, and brought up a 77-ball half-century with a whip through midwicket. His was the only wicket to fall, well caught by a diving Jordan Cox at slip after pushing forward at Gilchrist, as Hampshire rattled the score on by 172 runs between lunch and tea.
Vince had 82 from 87 at that stage, having eased off a touch while Dawson took up the cudgels. Kent’s problems were exacerbated when Bird left the field after another two-over spell – which this time included being hooked for six by Dawson – and Ollie Robinson was forced to turn to Bell-Drummond’s gentle seam-ups. Vince duly pulled a leg-side long hop for four, then produced possibly his only ungainly stroke in hacking Stevens through backward point, before a nudged single brought up his century, from 99 balls. Barring a couple of inside-edges that could, on another day, have disturbed his stumps, it was a chanceless knock.
Gilchrist was the standout bowler for Kent, claiming three of the four wickets to go down, but there was little assistance from either the surface or the conditions, despite persistent cloud cover. Only Milnes, who made the opening breakthrough when he had Joe Weatherley caught behind looking to drive, and offspinner Hamidullah Qadri, managed to go at less than four an over.