Six Kentish wickets fell for 125 runs on Day One of Essex’s 168th Canterbury Cricket Week encounter with Kent at The Spitfire Ground, St. Lawrence.
By stumps, Kent reached 125/6 after 53 overs, with Sam Cook and Mohammad Amir sharing the spoils for the visitors.
Chelmsford-born paceman Cook go stuck into Kent’s top-order during a stint of three for seven, while Amir hit his straps later in the day after the hosts had mounted a partial recovery, courtesy of a three-hour innings of 55 by Daniel Bell-Drummond and a gritty 35 from wicketkeeper-batsman Ollie Robinson.
On a day where The Open’s famous Claret Jug was in attendance ahead of The 2020 Open being held in the county, rain threatened to dampen the festivities of Canterbury Cricket Week.
Batting first after an uncontested toss, Kent lost Zak Crawley in the fourth over of the day. Driving down the wrong line at a full delivery from Amir, Crawley was bowled through the gate, losing his off stump to make it 7/1.
With heavy cloud cover and the floodlights on from the third over, Amir and Jamie Porter continued to set the Kent batsmen a stern examination until rain stopped play at 11.38am with Kent on 11 for one after only 9.1 overs.
With the covers on and pools of rainwater quickly forming on the outfield, the players went in for lunch as umpires Ian Blackwell and Paul Baldwin eventually deemed that play could re-start at 3.29pm with the loss of 43 overs in the day.
Seven overs after the resumption Kent opener Sean Dickson shuffled half-forward to a Cook in-ducker to be hit on the knee roll and depart LBW for eight; then, in his next over, Cook snared the returning Kent skipper Sam Billings in near identical fashion, leg-before for one on his season’s first-class debut.
Cook struck again during his mid-afternoon stint by removing Heino Kuhn for six. The South African’s late decision to run a Cook off-cutter down to third man backfired, when he chopped the ball onto off stump.
Kent rebuilt steadily either side of tea through Robinson and Bell-Drummond, who added 68 for the fifth wicket with Bell-Drummond extending a fine run of red-ball form that has led to him scoring either a 50 or a century in each of his last five, four-day appearances.
Bell-Drummond, Kent’s leading championship run-getter for the season, notched his fifth half-century of the campaign from 99 balls and with seven fours, while Robinson, who contributed 35 in 98 minutes, batting with maturity way beyond his 20 years to help take Kent into three figures shortly before 6pm.
With six overs left in the day, Amir returned for a second spell to finally dislodge Bell-Drummond, who chopped on for a painstaking 55 with seven fours after aiming a late cut to a low-bouncing delivery.
In his next over the Pakistan left-armer swung one in through the air to pluck out Robinson’s off pole, leaving Darren Stevens, on his 300th first-class appearance, and number eight Ollie Rayner, to see Kent through to stumps without further alarm.
Kent batsman Daniel Bell-Drummond said: “It was tough work on a slow wicket and with a bit of moisture around from the start.
“It wasn’t a bad wicket by any means, but they bowled really well and made it very tough for us. The scoreboard wasn’t really going anywhere and they showed us why they’re top of the table, but we’ll look to bounce back tomorrow.
“All our lads can all bat a bit, so we will look to push up toward 200 tomorrow and then see what our bowlers can extract from this surface.
“I didn’t feel like I could drive that much at the start of my innings because it was nipping around. I just played as late as possible.
Credit: ECB Reporters’ Network