Canterbury Week is here! Match Preview: Kent v Essex LV= CC, 8 – 11 Aug

Tuesday 7th August 2012

Men’s First Team

Canterbury Week is here! Match Preview: Kent v Essex LV= CC, 8 – 11 Aug

Kent v Essex, LV= County Championship Division Two

St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury, 8 August – 11 August 2012

The 161st Canterbury Cricket Week is upon us and the action begins with Kent taking on old foes Essex.

Rob Key’s men go into the game looking to bounce back from an agonising defeat in their last outing, suffered at the hands of league leaders Derbyshire. A win, in this latest fixture, will put them back into promotion contention.

Before the current round of matches, Kent sat in third position, 31 points off the top but, more importantly, just five points behind second-placed Yorkshire. A win in festival week is a must for the hosts. Essex, on the other hand, have struggled in championship cricket this term and are second from bottom – having claimed just a solitary win from their eleven outings. They will, however, be looking to ruin Kent’s week in front of the bumper Canterbury crowds.

The Invicta County slipped to a narrow two-wicket defeat against Derbyshire after dominating for two days in the east Midlands. Charlie Shreck bowled himself to the top of the division two wicket-taking rankings with fine match figures of 9-140 and Sam Northeast, Matt Coles and Rob Key all impressed with half-centuries but the table-toppers edged to their 295 victory target with just two-wickets to spare. The win further strengthened Derbyshire’s hold on a promotion position.

Essex were also in four-day action last week but rain thwarted their victory charge against Leicestershire at Chelmsford. Batting first, the hosts piled up 434 for three largely thanks to an opening stand of 248 between Tom Westley (125) and Jaik Mickleburgh (126). Long rain interruptions curtailed play and the home side were unable to put serious pressure on the visitors. Leicestershire responded with 359 all-out, after Michael Thornely struck a patient century and the shake of hands – to signal a drawn match – soon followed.

Last season, when Essex visited the St Lawrence Ground for a four-day fixture, a ten-wicket match haul from on-loan fast-bowler David Balcombe inspired Kent to complete a championship double over their neighbours.

Balcombe, borrowed from Hampshire, extracted pace and bounce out of the St Lawrence wicket to bag six scalps in the Essex first-innings as James Foster’s men were bundled out for just 144. The captain himself was the only batter to provide any real resistance, with 38, allowing Balcombe, ably assisted by Darren Stevens (2-46), to run riot and give Kent the upper hand.

On a tricky wicket, Kent applied themselves well in response and took total control. Joe Denly (55 from 53 balls) and championship debutant Daniel Bell-Drummond posted 51 for the first-wicket to build a solid foundation. Despite a flurry of wickets then reducing them to 133 for five; stand-in skipper Geraint Jones (54) and James Tredwell (47) put on 97 for the sixth wicket to strengthen the hosts' position. Former-Kent seamer David Masters continued his stunning season, returning 6-78, but even he couldn’t stop the home side taking a 116-run advantage.

Essex didn’t fair too much better in their second-innings. Foster again led the way, with an unbeaten 49, but he was let down by his troops as the visitors fell from 138 for four to 188 all-out. Balcombe completed his landmark haul with figures of 4-51 while Matt Coles and James Tredwell chipped in with three wickets apiece.

Chasing a modest victory target, Kent had a wobble, after three wickets from Graham Napier reduced them to 35 for four, but Jones saw his side home with a flurry of boundaries.

The weather forecast is looking good for Canterbury Festival Week so please come down and support the team in what is a crucial LV= CC clash. Jimmy Adams’ side still have promotion aspirations so it’s time to get behind the team and with lots going on (as highlighted elsewhere on the Kent Cricket website) there really is something for everyone – whether you are a cricket enthusiast or not.

Team news to follow.