Specsavers County Championship Division One, Emerald Headingley (day one):
Kent 482-8: Stevens 237, Billings 138; Olivier 5-108
Yorkshire: Yet to bat
Kent (5 pts), Yorkshire (2 pts)

Darren Stevens scored a career-best 237 against Yorkshire in what could be his penultimate match for Kent as records fell on day one at Headingley.

After winning the toss and choosing to bat first, the visitors were reduced to 39-5, but Stevens shared a Kent record sixth-wicket stand of 346 with Sam Billings, who made 138.

Stevens, 43, is set to be released at the end of the season.

But he smashed nine sixes and 28 fours as Kent reached the close on 482-8.

‘We are allowed to change our minds’

The visitors looked in serious trouble after South African Duanne Oliver (5-108) and Matt Fisher (2-79) removed Zak Crawley, Ollie Robinson, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Faf du Plessis and Heino Kuhn inside the first 11 overs.

But in an amazing turnaround, Stevens and Billings took the home attack apart as they eclipsed Kent’s previous sixth-wicket record of 315 by Aravinda de Silva and Mark Ealham against Notts at Trent Bridge in 1995.

All-rounder Stevens is due to leave Canterbury after 15 years following next week’s game against Hampshire but has been offered hope of a change of heart by head coach Matt Walker.

Following his 88 in the first innings of Kent’s game against Nottinghamshire last week, and match figures of 10-92, Walker told BBC Radio Kent last week: “We’re never afraid to put our hands up and say maybe we got this wrong.

“We are allowed to change our minds and we want to reward performance and at the moment Darren’s performances are right up there.”

Stevens is the oldest man to hit a double century – the fourth of his career – in the Championship since 1949 and it was also the highest score for Kent against Yorkshire, beating his own previous best of 208 set against both Glamorgan in 2005 and in 2009.

Having been dropped by Olivier on 149 and by Tim Bresnan on 156, he was eventually caught at deep mid-wicket off New Zealand spinner Ajaz Patel (1-119) by 17-year-old Matthew Revis – a Yorkshire debutant who had not been born when Stevens made his first Championship appearance in 1997.

Billings, meanwhile, helped himself to his second hundred in successive games and Ollie Rayner (40) and Matt Milnes (14) were not out at the close with Kent heading towards a score in excess of 500.


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