Mahmood and Ferley come into the 12 for trip to Essex

Saturday 8th May 2010

Kent“s cricketers will look to build on their much improved performance against Warwickshire last week when they travel to Chelmsford to take on old adversaries Essex in their latest LV=County Championship match.

The two sides have endured mixed starts on their return to division one. Essex opened their campaign with a thrilling 62-run victory over Hampshire, inspired by Ryan ten Doeschate“s five for 13, in Hampshire“s second innings. Since then a win has been hard to find as a heavy defeat, at home to Lancashire, was sandwiched by draws against Somerset and Durham. Last week Mark Pettini“s side suffered a heavy defeat to Yorkshire, losing by an innings and 96 runs at Scarborough.

Both counties gained promotion from division two last year with Kent finishing 25 points clear of their rivals and both tasted success when they met each other. Firstly, at Chelmsford in May, Kent crushed Essex by 192 runs. The home side batted first and made a creditable 370 with former Kent man Matt Walker making 98. Wicketkeeper James Foster was also in the runs with 99. South African Wayne Parnell was the pick of the Kent attack, taking 4-78. Martin Saggers backed him up with credible figures of 3-45.

Kent struggled in reply to 205 and were forced to follow-on. Parnell followed up his good performance with the ball, hitting 69. Kent fared much better in their second-knock as they took control of the game. Centuries from Martin van Jaarsveld and Darren Stevens enabled them to rack up 512. With the draw still looking the most likely result, going into the last day, up stepped Robbie Joseph to steam through the Essex batting card. They were bowled out for just 155 as the paceman recorded figures of 6-55 to lead Kent to an improbable win.

The return match, in June, at the Nevill Ground, saw Essex gain sweet revenge. Batting first at Tunbridge Wells, Graham Napier“s unbeaten 64 saw the visitors score 280. Kent“s reply was woeful, as they were bundled out for 123, with Napier and David Masters grabbing four wickets apiece. Pettini turned the screw in their second innings. His century enabled the side to declare on 320-6, leaving Key“s side with a massive chase.

Joe Denly made a great fist of seeing his side through to victory but once he departed, after making a majestic 123, Kent“s hopes went with him as they were bowled out for 355; Essex taking victory by 122 runs.

Kent have made two changes to the side that lost to Warwickshire by 44 runs in the last round of matches. All-rounder Azhar Mahmood and spin bowler Rob Ferley (pictured) come into the side with Amjad Khan rested.

The Kent 12 is as follows: Denly, Key (C), Jones (W), van Jaarsveld, Northeast, Stevens, Hockley, Mahmood, Coles, Cook, Ferley, Ntini