Match Preview: Essex Eagles vs. Kent Spitfires

Thursday 24th June 2021

Men’s First Team

Vitality Blast

Match Preview: Essex Eagles vs. Kent Spitfires

The Cloudfm County Ground in Chelmsford is the venue for the latest ‘Battle of the Bridge’ encounter between Kent Spitfires and Essex Eagles in the Vitality Blast.

A tie named after the Queen Elizabeth II bridge that connects the two counties across the Thames at Dartford & Tilbury, many Kent Members and supporters class Essex as the county’s biggest rivals.

Jack Leaning, Jordan Cox & Daniel Bell-Drummond have all now passed the 200-run milestone in the tournament this season, with Leaning currently top-scorer with 232.

20-year-old Cox now averages 50.75 in this year’s Blast after scoring 36 not out against Gloucestershire on Tuesday.

Leaning has also hit the most sixes in the tournament for the Spitfires, with 12, with Bell-Drummond having hit 11.

Matt Milnes is the Blast’s joint-third highest wicket taker so far, with 11 in seven matches at 16.90. Fred Klaassen also has 10 wickets at 19.60.

The Spitfires now have five wins from their first seven matches in the Vitality Blast, giving Kent ten points.

Last time out

Kent Spitfires suffered their second defeat of this season’s Vitality Blast after being bested by eight-wickets against Gloucestershire at Bristol.

View full scorecard >>>

Gloucestershire successfully chased down 148 to give Kent their second loss of the campaign, with the visitors still sitting top of the South Group at the end of play.

Opposition Report

The Eagles face Middlesex on Thursday night three days after defeating high-flying Surrey at The Kia Oval.

In a rain-affected encounter in South London, 4-15 from Sam Cook and 56 not out from Will Buttleman saw the Eagles home as they picked up their second win of the tournament.

At the time of writing, Buttleman is now Essex’s top Blast run-scorer with 128 in five matches, closely followed by former Spitfire Jimmy Neesham on 122.

Sam Cook’s four-fer against Surrey has propelled the right-armer up to 11 wickets in the tournament, the most of any Essex player, with an average of 12.27. Skipper and overseas star Simon Harmer has five wickets so far.

Live Streaming

Essex Eagles vs. Kent Spitfires will be embedded into the Match Centre on the Kent Cricket website, with pictures coming via Essex Cricket.

‘The Battle of the Bridge’

According to Charles Kightly from English Heritage, the rivalry between teams representing Kent and Essex began in a gruesome manner in 1776. “Two teams from Kent and Essex agreed to play a ‘great match at cricket’ at Tilbury Fort, Essex.

“But when the Kentish team turned out to include a man ‘who should not have been there’ – perhaps a ‘professional’ – the Essex men refused to play, ‘on which a very bloody battle ensued’. Facing an obligation to forfeit, one of the Kentish team ran into the guard house, seized a gun, and shot dead an Essex man.

“Everybody now rushed to grab guns, easily overpowering the four soldiers on duty, and ‘fell to it, doing a great deal of mischief’. This included running someone through with a bayonet, and killing a guard as he attempted to restore order.

“Eventually the Essex men fled over the drawbridge, while the Kentish team ‘made off in their boats, but search is making after them’.”

Whilst, of course, more recent clashes with Essex have been thankfully nowhere near as violent, intense rivalry has endured between these noisy neighbours.

Since the inception of T20 cricket in 2003, the Spitfires and Eagles have faced each other 35 times, with Kent winning 19 and Essex 15.

Joe Denly and Daniel Bell-Drummond set a new Club record partnership for any wicket in T20 competition against Essex in 2017 – putting on 207 runs together, Denly scoring a century and Bell-Drummond 80*, with Kent making 221/2 in 20 overs.

Kent’s most decisive victory by runs in T20 cricket came against the Eagles at Beckenham in 2008 – 91 from Joe Denly helped the Spitfires post 204/5, before dismissing Essex for 123 – a win by 81 runs. James Tredwell took 3-17, and current Kent bowling coach Simon Cook 3-21.

Essex’s 99 all-out in 2007 is the fifth-lowest total by any side facing the Spitfires in the format, Darren Stevens taking his current T20-best figures of 4-14 in a 42-run victory at Chelmsford.

The reverse fixture this season at Canterbury saw Kent record a new Club record batting total in T20 cricket – 236/3, which helped Kent towards a 67-run victory.

‘The Battle of the Bridge’ also forms part of the annual contest of the Mike Denness Shield between the two counties, named after the former England cricketing legend that has played for both sides. The Men’s First XI with most aggregate victories across all formats wins the Shield.

Kent are the current holders of the Mike Denness Shield, having won two of three matches against Essex in 2020, and are currently ‘1-0 up’ in 2021.

Team News

Due to the current loan agreement between Kent & Essex for Matt Quinn, the right-armer is unable to feature in this match.

Overseas signing Adam Milne has now arrived in the UK and is expected to join-up with the Spitfires for the visit of Somerset on 28 June.

Tim Groenewald (knee) remains unavailable for this match.

Sam Billings is unavailable after being called-up to England’s IT20 squad to face Sri Lanka. Daniel Bell-Drummond will continue to captain the side.

Kent’s full Matchday Squad, presented by Shepherd Neame >>>


Kent Spitfires will look to avenge defeat at Taunton with the visit of Somerset to The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence on Monday 28 June (19:00 start).

Click here to check for Kent Spitfires vs. Somerset ticket availability >>>

Be in with a chance of winning Darren Stevens’ signed match-worn Vitality Blast shirt by buying any piece of Samurai Sportswear Kent Cricket merchandise online or in-store before 18 July.

Purchase your Samurai Sportswear Kent Cricket merchandise here >>>

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Match Previews of Kent Spitfires’ Vitality Blast fixtures are proudly sponsored by Shepherd Neame >>>