Ben Foakes, scoring a brilliant 88 not out after emerging from England’s bio-secure Test ‘bubble’, and Darren Stevens shared second day honours in the Bob Willis Trophy at The Kia Oval.
Foakes’ high-class effort, in his first first-class innings since last September, kept Surrey afloat at 239 for 7 in reply to Kent’s 342, but it was Stevens – with 3 for 27 from 18 overs, nine of which were maidens – who stood out even with impressive displays from his fellow seamers Matt Milnes and Harry Podmore.
Milnes produced the ball of the day to bowl Jamie Smith for 28, and he and Podmore both picked up two wickets, but it was Stevens who returned in the late afternoon sunshine to add the scalp of Rikki Clarke to two earlier strikes.
Clarke had been hitting out strongly, with five fours in his 26-ball 30, but Stevens had him caught at second slip in the second over of his third spell after being reintroduced at 209 for 6 to bowl the 65th over of the innings.
The veteran had even gone past the edge of Foakes’ bat with his second delivery before beating Clarke with a magnificent leg-cutter two balls before the Surrey all-rounder became Stevens’ 16th victim of this Willis Trophy competition.
Foakes hit 14 fours and faced 145 balls on a day when Stevens dismissed Scott Borthwick and Will Jacks in a superb second spell of 8-6-8-2 as Surrey initially struggled to 83 for 4, before Foakes teamed up with Laurie Evans and then Sam Curran to add 52 and 46 for the fifth and sixth wickets.
Podmore had made an immediate breakthrough with the ball for Kent, having Mark Stoneman leg-before for 2 with the fourth ball of Surrey’s reply, but then Borthwick and Smith added 56 for the second wicket in largely comfortable style.
Smith, though, was bowled by Milnes in the eighth over after lunch with a ball which pitched on middle and off and took the top of off stump – while Stevens, wicketless in his five-over new ball spell, then returned to devastating effect in mid-afternoon.
His first ball, a short-pitched loosener wide of off stump, was thick-edged to Jordan Cox at first slip by a distraught Borthwick, who had to drag himself from the field after scoring 26, and Jacks had made just 5 when he drove at a Stevens away-swinger and edged to Jack Leaning at second slip.
Foakes edged Stevens just short of second slip early in his innings, but otherwise – watched by England selector James Taylor – he defied his lack of cricket in recent months to bat with poise and real quality as the rest of Surrey’s top order fell away.
Evans made it to 18 before shouldering arms to Milnes and losing his off stump to a ball which nipped back off the seam, and Curran punched one fine straight four off Milnes before falling to a great piece of bowling by Podmore, who roared with delight after angling one across the left-handed England Test all-rounder to have him caught by keeper Ollie Robinson for 21 as he pushed defensively.
The second day had begun with Kent adding 47 runs in 55 minutes’ batting, with Milnes converting his overnight 22 into 43 – matching his previous best first-class score – before being last out.
Adam Finch, a 20-year-old fast bowler playing his second match for Surrey on a loan deal from Worcestershire, finished with 4 for 69 by having Milnes caught at deep mid wicket soon after ending a bright 25 from Nathan Gilchrist on first-class debut, caught behind by Foakes from an excellent leg-cutter. Milnes and Gilchrist had added a more-than-useful 41 for the ninth wicket.
Gilchrist edged a leg-cutter from Finch to keeper Foakes – having faced 53 balls, and hit five fours – and Milnes equalled the 43 he made for Nottinghamshire against Yorkshire in 2018 before pulling Finch to deep mid-wicket.