YORKSHIRE endured a chastening first day against Kent at Emerald Headingley, with veteran Darren Stevens smashing a fabulous career best 237 to recover his side from early strife.

Duanne Olivier impressed with four wickets in seven overs with the new ball as Kent slipped to 39-5 in the early stages of this penultimate round Specsavers County Championship battle, only for them to close on 482-8 from 96 overs.

The South African quick even bowled his former Test captain Francois du Plessis for a four-ball duck.

But, from then on, it was a day to forget for the hosts.

Not that 43-year-old Stevens will ever forget it as he tries to win a new contract at Kent having been told in July that he would no longer be required after 15 years at Canterbury.

In excellent batting conditions, he and England limited overs fringe wicketkeeper-batsman Sam Billings, who also reached an understated century after tea, broke records aplenty to change the complexion of a fixture which sees both sides chasing a third-placed finish in Division One.

They shared 346 inside 65 overs for the sixth wicket from mid-morning to mid-evening, vindicating the decision to bat first.

It was a Kent record sixth-wicket partnership and the highest ever for that wicket on this ground. It was also the highest partnership for any wicket in Championship cricket this season.

Stevens also posted the highest score by a Kent batsman against Yorkshire, with this his first 100 plus score since May 2017.

The White Rose, for whom debutant spinner Ajaz Patel was expensive (1-119 from 15 overs), made a flying start.

While Olivier was rewarded, Matthew Fisher was excellent from the other end (Emerald Stand).

Olivier bowled a much fuller length than usual and picked up the prized wicket of former colleague du Plessis, debuting for Kent in red ball cricket after a short spell in T20 cricket last month.

Du Plessis, warming up for a forthcoming Test series in India, was bowled through the gate by an in-ducker as the score fell to eight for three in the fifth over.

Earlier, in the third, Oliver trapped Zak Crawley lbw and had Ollie Robinson caught behind as both attempted to leave alone.

Olivier’s fourth wicket - another compatriot Heino Kuhn, trapped lbw - came after Daniel Bell-Drummond lost his off stump to one which kept low from Fisher in the eighth over (22-4).

From there, Billings, who reached his hundred off 157 balls, and Stevens steadied the ship, with the latter particularly positive as confidence grew.

He successfully hit over the top on the off-side on a couple of occasions before launching left-arm spinner Patel for a straight six to reach a 59-ball fifty in the final over before lunch.

Stevens also clipped Steve Patterson for six over mid-wicket shortly after lunch and hit Patel for another in the same area on the way to a 129-ball century - his first since one against former county Leicestershire in the early stages of 2017.

Not without luck, he went from 51 to 191 in an afternoon session which yielded 204 runs in 36 overs. He offered a number of difficult chances, although on 149 offered an easy chance to Olivier off Fisher at mid-on.

Seven of Stevens’ sixes came off Patel before holing out to the Kiwi (385-6 in the 75th over). He received congratulations from all the Yorkshire players and a rousing reception from the home faithful.

Billings was caught in the gully off Olivier (5-108 from 24) for 138 late in the day, while Fisher also struck again.