LV=CC: Captain Key back for the visit of Essex

Tuesday 27th July 2010

Kent v Essex
LV= County Championship Division One
Thursday 29 July – Sunday 1 August 2010
11am start
St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury

After battling to a last day draw at Taunton last week, Kent“s cricketers will be looking to go one better when they welcome Essex to Canterbury this week for the club“s latest LV=CC division one match. They have received the perfect tonic with skipper Rob Key (pictured) making his comeback, after recovering from a broken finger.

The home side will be looking for a win as they look to stave off the threat of relegation and, up against fourth placed Essex, they face tough opponents but with the season well into its second-half every point is vital now as Kent will be looking for success against their old rivals.

Last week, Kent, led by Martin van Jaarsveld in the absence of Key, were happy to take a draw away from the west country; despite dominating the first day against Somerset. On a green top, the home side subsided to 122 for seven after day one, largely thanks to four wickets from Darren Stevens. However, they rallied on the second morning and were bowled out for 205. Zander de Bruyn“s 44 was crucial for Somerset while Stevens (4-38) and Amjad Khan (3-63) impressed for Kent. Marcus Trescothick“s men then proceeded to continue their day two fight back as they took the upper hand in the game.

Plenty of Kent batters made starts. Joe Denly (34), Sam Northeast (24), Matt Coles (23), but ultimately they didn“t stand up to a wily Somerset attack as Murali Kartik returned 5-50 as the visitors were shot out for 172. Somerset then pushed on in their second innings to extend their lead, despite the whole of day three being washed out. Rapid knocks from Trescothick (80), James Hildreth (48) and de Bruyn (43) meant Kent were set an academic last day victory target of 325; their real target was to bat out two sessions. In the end Kent finished on 191-7, Geraint Jones was the mainstay with a 150-ball 47, as Kartik took five more to finish with match figures of 10-107. The visitors went back to Kent with six points.

In their last outing, Essex were involved in a high-scoring draw at Chelmsford against Yorkshire. The home side batted first and were powered by Ravi Bopara“s 142 as they posted 399. Adil Rashid took five wickets for Yorkshire. In reply the visitors made 324, thanks to half-centuries from Adam Lyth and Rashid. Tim Phillips was the pick of the Essex bowlers returning 4-94. Another Bopara ton in Essex“s second innings, alongside 102 from fellow England star Alastair Cook, enabled them to set Yorkshire a target of 369 in 83 overs, and the Tykes certainly had a real good go. 106 from Jacques Rudolph and a quick fire 62 from talented wicketkeeper-batsman Jonathan Bairstow kept them in touch but, in the end, the captain“s shook hands on a draw ay 333-7 off 82.4 overs.

The two sides last met in this competition, back in May, at Chelmsford and it ended in a draw despite Kent being on top throughout. The visitors batted first and racked up 474 as Jones (135) and Stevens (100) made hay. In reply Azhar Mahmood“s 5-63 meant Essex were bowled out for 341. Tom Westley“s 132 was the mainstay of their innings. Taking a lead of 133 into their second-innings, Kent increased that further thanks to 71 from Sam Northeast as they were bowled out for 204 with Pakistani spinner Danish Kaneria taking 4-68. This meant the home side were set a victory target of 338 off a minimum of 78 overs, and in the end neither side looked likely to force a win as Essex finished on 254-4. Fifties from Cook and Westley blunted the Kent attack; led by occasional bowler Denly who bowled 27 overs, returning figures of 2-100.

With only one championship win to their name this season Kent will be looking to pick up a priceless win over their old adversaries and with the forecast looking good for the next few days it promises to be an exciting match at the St Lawrence Ground.

Captain Rob Key and all-rounder Azhar Mahmood are added the side that drew away at Somerset in the last round of matches.

Commenting on his return, team director Paul Farbrace said: “Rob should be fit to return and that is obviously good news for everyone. He will come back refreshed and we are delighted to have him back because he is a quality player. I“m pleased that Azhar is also in the squad because he is a key player for us too. We put in a good performance in the reverse fixture at Chelmsford. If we had a front line spinner (in that game) then we might have taken the points. It was an exciting game and we will hope to put on a similar show, here at Canterbury, because the boys enjoy working hard and playing well in front of our home crowds.”

Kent (from): Key (C), Denly, Northeast, van Jaarsveld, Jones (W), Stevens Mahmood, Tredwell, Bandara, Cook, Khan, Coles, Blake

On day one of the game, St Lawrence College Junior School Cricket Team will be our special guests and will present a guard of honour for the players.

Picture:Sarah Ansell