Match Preview: Essex vs. Kent Spitfires

Wednesday 21st June 2023

Men’s First Team

Vitality Blast

Match Preview: Essex vs. Kent Spitfires

It’s time for the away leg of the ‘Battle of the Bridge’ in the Vitality Blast this season – Essex host the Kent Spitfires at the Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford.

After 4-31 last time out against Sussex Sharks, Michael Hogan tops Kent’s wicket-taking charts with 19 at an average of 17.57. Grant Stewart has 15 wickets at 17.80, whilst Fred Klaassen is Kent’s most economical seamer – with seven wickets in five matches with an economy of 7.63.

Daniel Bell-Drummond’s rich form with the bat continues – he has four 50+ scores so far, & has passed the 400-run mark for the competition, averaging 45.22. His runs are seconded by Joe Denly, who has 259 runs at 134.89. Following his big knock at Hove, Jordan Cox now has 231 runs striking at 155.03.

Of Kent’s batters & all-rounders, Stewart has the Spitfires’ highest batting strike rate at 188.57, whilst Bell-Drummond is the first Kent batter to reach double figures in six hitting this T20 season – his 12 sixes are seconded by Cox with 11.

The Kent Spitfires will welcome Middlesex to ‘Fortress Canterbury’ in a floodlit, Friday night T20 match on 23 June.

Buy your tickets now to avoid disappointment & lock in supporting your Spitfires now in an exciting Summer of white-ball cricket:

Buy tickets now

Last Time Out

Jordan Cox led Kent Spitfires to their fourth Vitality Blast win in a row as they beat Sussex Sharks by six wickets at the 1st Central County Ground in Hove.

View full scorecard

Cox hit an unbeaten 82 off just 44 deliveries, with six fours and five sixes.  And he was well supported at the end by Jack Leaning, who made an unbeaten 28 from 26 balls.  The Spitfires needed 12 runs from the final two overs but Cox saw his side home with eight balls to spare when he hit the otherwise impressive Ari Karvelas to leg for successive sixes.

Both the Sharks and the Spitfires had to win this match to sustain their ambitions in the Vitality Blast and both sides had shown some encouraging form in recent weeks after generally disappointing campaigns.

The Spitfires, chasing 170, got off to a good start with 25 from the first two overs but then Karvelas came on to bowl the third, bowling Tawanda Muyeye with his first delivery and then having Joe Denly caught behind with his fourth ball.

When Tymal Mills came on to bowl the fourth over he had the Spitfires captain Sam Billings caught behind for just two and suddenly Kent were on the back foot at 28 for three.

But Cox put the Spitfires on top once more with a fourth wicket stand of 70 in seven overs with Daniel Bell-Drummond (38).  The pair looked in total control before, in the 11th over, Bell-Drummond attempted to work Ravi Bopara to fine leg and got a top edge.  Cox, though, carried on, reaching his half-century from 31 balls with five fours and a six.  He then celebrated the landmark by hoisting Brad Currie over square-leg for six, before reverse scooping George Garton over third man for another maximum before his final flurry of strokeplay against Karvelas.

Match Coverage

Essex vs. Kent Spitfires will be live streamed by Essex Cricket, with the YouTube stream accessible via the Match Centre on the Kent Cricket website, which also features a live updating video scorecard.

Live match updates will also appear on the Club’s social media channels.

Opposition Report

  • Captain: Simon Harmer
  • Overseas players: Simon Harmer (South Africa), Daniel Sams (Australia).
  • Finals Day appearances: 5 (2006, 2008, 2010, 2013, 2019)
  • Titles: 1 (2019)
  • 2022 finish: Quarter-finals
  • 2022 leading run-scorer: Michael Pepper (439)
  • 2022 leading wicket-taker: Simon Harmer (17)

It is 2022 all over again as far as Essex are concerned. They were sufficiently impressed with the Australian T20 specialist Daniel Sams (a strike-rate of 171.87 with the bat last season alongside 15 wickets) that they have asked him to return.

  • The big question: Michael Pepper has emerged in the past two seasons as an in-demand T20 gunslinging number three with a 360-degreee game. He was Essex’s leading run-scorer in both the 2021 and 2022 campaigns, ramping, scooping and reverse-sweeping from ball one. Can he do it again?
  • Wildcard watch: Feroze Khushi – With six Essex players already signed up by The Hundred teams, any additions are going to have to take what chances come their way in the Blast. Khushi hit a career-best 67 from 40 balls last season; something similar could pique interest.

Because they are the warm-up act for Ireland’s Test against England, Essex will begin the Blast two or three games behind everyone else. As they are notoriously slow starters they could be looking up at the pace-setters for some time. However, they do have a tendency to finish the competition strongly, so may have their rivals looking over their shoulders.

Squad News

Men’s Head Coach Matt Walker has made one change to Kent’s squad of 13 for the Battle of the Bridge.

Matt Quinn replaces Fred Klaassen, who misses out through injury.

Australia’s Wes Agar is still in place in the Spitfires’ T20 squad over Kane Richardson (side strain), with two overseas players permitted in the Playing XI. Arshdeep Singh is only available for Kent in the County Championship, as per the terms of his Overseas spell.

Zak Crawley is with England’s Test setup for the Ashes.

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

Kent Spitfires matchday squad vs. Essex: Sam Billings (Captain), Wes Agar (Overseas player), Daniel Bell-Drummond, Alex Blake, Jordan Cox, Joe Denly, Joey Evison, Michael Hogan, Jack Leaning, George Linde (Overseas player), Tawanda Muyeye, Matt Quinn, Grant Stewart.

Friday night T20s are back soon!

The Kent Spitfires will welcome Middlesex to ‘Fortress Canterbury’ in a floodlit, Friday night T20 match on 23 June.

Buy your tickets now to avoid disappointment & lock in supporting your Spitfires now in an exciting Summer of white-ball cricket:

Buy tickets now

Members do not need to pre-book their space at T20 matches as per last season – entry will be gained by scanning a valid 2023 Kent Cricket Membership card at the gate.

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