Jimmy Adams’ new regime as Kent Director of Cricket began in style as Kent took the plaudits on a glorious, if not chilly, day one at Headingley.
All the talk before the game centred around Kent’s six new signings all starting, but a familiar face shone brighter than the Leeds sunshine.
Captain Rob Key led the way with a majestic 97, before cruelly running himself out three shy of three figures. He was backed up by new talent Newman (64), Harmison (45), Nash (67) and Powell (37).
Key praised the all round contribution of the new guard and indeed the ethos of the changing room following what appeared to be a complete transformation of fortunes on the field.
Key added that winning the first session on Day Two would be vital in determining the outcome of this match.
The temperatures when play commenced were so arctic, Kent could be forgiven for thinking they’d returned to the tundra conditions of their last LVCC match (that ill-fated pink ball floodlit thing) in September. However, one extra pullover seemed to do the trick as Key and Newman began their Kent partnership in some style.
The ball swung like the proverbial Australian stick in the initial exchanges, Newman twice edging just short of slip during a tense and edgy first half an hour.
Key played the anchor role of the two, Newman happy to waft the willow early on, crashing a couple of cut shots for four before throwing in the odd play-and-miss for good measure.
It took until the 13th over before Yorkshire’s first change of Pyrah and Wardlaw emerged with frosty fingers and an equally icy reception from Kent’s opening duo, who brought up their maiden half century partnership in fortuitous fashion, firstly when Key’s dab into the offside was misfielded by Pyrah and then when Newman mistimed a hook, top edging Wardlaw for a boundary in the 14th over.
Thereafter, Newman and Key did battle with each other as much as the Yorkshire attack, scoring tit for tat until Key emerged as the first batsman in the county to reach a half century, driving majestically down the ground for four before late cutting Pyrah to reach the landmark.
Newman followed a few balls later to keep the pressure on Daniel Bell Drummond, who hit 109 not out for England Under 19s in Australia yesterday.
LUNCH: Kent 117-0 (Newman 57*, Key 53*) (31ovs)
It was much of the same after the interval, Newman continuing to attack but a fired up Ryan Sidebottom unceremoniously uprooted the left handers off stump for 64, reward for toiling away with pace and aggression down the Headlingley hill.
Ben Harmison’s introduction slowed the scoring, Shazad and Sidebottom complimenting each other in tandem. Once Harmison had found his feet, particularly effective clipping the ball off his legs, Key accelerated to 97 at the other end before heartbreak struck with opening day glory in sight.
Obdurate, patient and near perfect for much of the day, Key pushed a single to his opposite number Andrew Gale at midoff, only to be sent packing thanks to a direct hit.
Trudging off, Key look distraught at missing out on his 46th first class century but could claim a crumb of comfort from passing 16,000 runs in the longer format of the game.
West Indian Nash took little time to bed into English cricket, majestically driving through the off side but lost Harmison moments before tea when the former Durham all-rounder drove loosely at Adil Rashid and found Gareth Balance’s hands at slip in fine fettle to fall for 45.
TEA: Kent 239-3 (Nash *)
As the spring sunshine slipped below the new pavilion at Headingley, Nash took the fight to Headingley, breezing to his half century at more than a run a ball, quite the surprise for the Jamaican supposedly renowned for his dogged rather than dashing displays.
Nash’s cover driving continued to dazzle but with the new ball approaching, he and Mike Powell reigned in their attacking instincts in favour of some old fashioned grit and determination.
The new Dukes cherry brought the Yorkshire openers back into the attack with instant success. Nash, having been reprieved on 63 a couple of overs earlier after Rashid spilled a flashing chance at third slip, finally departed to a smart low catch by Anthony McGrath for 67.
Powell, who looked short of form during his scratchy 37, perished just six balls before the close, trapped lbw by Rashid despite what appeared to be a lengthy stride down the wicket.
Adam Riley and Darren Stevens safely negotiated the final exchanges to leave Kent still firmly in the driving seat on what was billed as their toughest trip all season.
DAY ONE STUMPS: Kent 345-5 (Stevens 22*, Riley 0*)
READ MY END OF DAY SUMMARY FOR BBC SPORT HERE: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/cricket/17614217
Friday, 6th April 2012