Bell-Drummond gives Kent edge
Former England Under-19 batsman Daniel Bell-Drummond notched a maiden County Championship century to give Kent the edge on day one of their Division Two clash with Derbyshire at Canterbury.
Bell-Drummond, 20, marked his 30th first-class appearance with a patient hundred scored in a shade over five-and-a-half hours and with only 11 boundaries as Kent posted two batting bonus points as they reached 259 for eight at stumps after winning the toss and choosing to bat first on a tinder-dry pitch.
The young right-hander fell for 101 late in the day, caught on the crease and palpably leg before, to become the last of Tony Palladino's deserved haul for five for 54 for the visitors.
Having helped post 48 for the first wicket Kent lost skipper Rob Key (34) in the game's first over of spin when, in advancing down the pitch to David Wainwright, Key missed a turning delivery to be stumped by Gareth Cross.
Ben Harmison (17) lunged in defence at Wainwright to be caught behind and send Kent in to lunch on 89 for two and, soon after the resumption, Brendan Nash (21) was left to rue his late decision to shoulder arms to a Palladino in-swinger that trimmed off stump.
On his home championship bow, Fabian Cowdrey spent 20 minutes and faced 18 deliveries before getting off the mark and had reached only 14 when - despite the hint of an inside edge - he was adjudged lbw to Mark Footitt.
Bell-Drummond added 91 in tandem with Darren Stevens (45) before Palladino struck with the second new ball as Stevens, flicking airily leg-side, edged through to the keeper to give Palladino his 150th first-class scalp in Derbyshire colours.
He soon added to the tally having Sam Billings (nought) caught behind from a loose back-foot force and then pinning Bell-Drummond and Adam Riley (four) leg before as Derbyshire rallied in the final hour.
Though Kent have allowed James Tredwell to go out on loan to Sussex, it seems clear that his replacement, Riley, will have a key role to play as this game develops.
Riley, a 22-year-old off-spinner from Sidcup, is Kent's leading championship wicket-taker with 24 scalps at an average of 29.50 and should thrive on this bone-dry and cracked surface at the Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence.
That spin would play a big part in events became evident after only 75 minutes when Derbyshire slow left-armer, Wainwright, dismissed Key with only his second ball of the match.
But the dual spin threat of Wainwright and off-spinner Marcus North was subdued by Bell-Drummond's sheer tenacity and patience thereafter.
No one on the ground was more delighted for Bell-Drummond than Kent team-mate and former West Indies Test batsman Nash who had batted 45 minutes with the former Millfield School starlet earlier in the day.
Nash, who was born and raised in Australia, invited Bell-Drummond to Queensland during the close season and believes his stint playing Grade cricket for Northern Suburbs helped lay the foundations for a consistent second full season in the Kent team.
"Deebs came with me to Brisbane, played decent local cricket on good pitches and found out a lot about himself, both personally and as a cricketer," said Nash.
"He didn't have a coach hanging over him every day and had to fend for himself more than he had previously and I think that's really helped with his development and character building.
"He's been pretty consistent this season and county sides are giving him a lot more chirp because of that, but it's water off a duck's back to him now. I couldn't be happier for him."
Nash added: "Daniel had to be watchful. While I was out there we talked about the risk factor in shots square of the wicket and cross-bat strokes and we really tried to concentrate on scoring the majority of runs in the 'v' and that's what he did to perfection."