Match Preview: Kent Spitfires vs. Essex Eagles

Saturday 19th June 2021

Men’s First Team

Vitality Blast

Match Preview: Kent Spitfires vs. Essex Eagles

Kent Spitfires welcome Essex Eagles to The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence to contest the latest chapter of the ‘Battle of the Bridge’ saga on Sunday 20 June 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.

Both Jack Leaning and Jordan Cox have surpassed 160 runs for Kent in five Blast matches so far, both averaging over 40.00 with the bat so far this tournament.

Leaning has also hit the most sixes in the tournament for the Spitfires, with eight.

Five Kent bowlers have now taken five or more wickets in this year’s Blast, with Fred Klaassen (9), Matt Milnes (8), Grant Stewart (7), Darren Stevens (6) and Joe Denly (5) all averaging below 25.00 with the ball.

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


Any remaining tickets, and tickets that our Members have returned to us after they can no longer attend, are on general sale until 10:30 on Sunday 20 June. As more tickets are released/returned, they will be available to purchase.

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

We urge any Members that have booked Vitality Blast tickets and do not intend to use them to contact the Club as soon as possible, so that they may be made available to their fellow supporters.

Tickets will not be available on the gate.

Last time out

Kent seamer Matt Milnes took his maiden five-wicket haul in T20 cricket as his side sealed a 40-run Vitality Blast win over Glamorgan in Cardiff.

View full scorecard >>>

Milnes & co. did the business to defend a total of 144 for seven, with the former Nottinghamshire bowler ending the match with figures of five for 22.

Two wickets each for Marnus Labuschagne, Prem Sisodiya and Dan Douthwaite put Glamorgan in control, but they were dismissed for just 104 as Labuschagne failed for the first time in the Blast.

Opposition Report

After a washout against Gloucestershire at Chelmsford on Friday, Essex have one win from four completed matches so far in the Vitality Blast.

Former Spitfire Jimmy Neesham is the Eagles’ top run-getter so far with 121 in four innings, including 53 against Somerset in their one win so far.

Sam Cook has six wickets to his name at 14.50, with skipper and overseas player Simon Harmer having taken four wickets in as many matches at 28.50.

Essex Eagles squad in full: Simon Harmer (Captain), Will Buttleman, Sam Cook, Dan Lawrence, Jimmy Neesham, Aron Nijjar, Michael Pepper, Jack Plom, Jamie Porter, Shane Snater, Ryan ten Doeschate, Paul Walter, Tom Westley, Adam Wheater

Return of spectators

It’s our top priority to welcome you back to The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, and to do that safely, we all have a role to play.

Because COVID-19 remains a part of our lives for the time-being – everyone – including the players, officials, staff, stewards and Members – will need to adhere to COVID-protocols to make the return of spectators a successful, and hopefully a permanent one.

All the information you need to adhere to the Club’s COVID-protocols upon your return to watching the Kent Spitfires live can be found in the below Match Day Information Pack:


Following the announcement that surge testing for COVID-19 has been implemented in Canterbury, the Club has been advised the introduction of the new enhancing testing programme is a precautionary measure.

Whilst the numbers of infection are relatively small, they are enough to cause some concern, and the enhanced testing programme is designed to help health officials get better idea of what’s happening in the community with regards to transmission.

Public Health officials at Kent County Council are urging anyone living, working or studying in all CT1 postcodes and the CT2 7 postcode to take a PCR Test at one of the five new test sites.

The units will be located at the city’s three City Council-owned Park and Ride services, in New Dover Road, Wincheap and Sturry Road; and at Darwin College car park and Keynes College car park at the University of Kent.

Live Streaming

Kent Spitfires vs. Essex Eagles will be streamed via Kent Cricket’s Official YouTube channel, and embedded into the Match Centre on the Kent Cricket website.

‘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 34 times, with Kent winning 18 and Essex 15.

The Spitfires’ highest T20 total against Essex came at Chelmsford, when Joe Denly and Daniel Bell-Drummond set a new Club record partnership for any wicket in T20 competition – 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 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.

Team News

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

Heino Kuhn returns to the squad for the first time in this season’s Vitality Blast, after recovering from a calf injury. As a reminder, sides in the Vitality Blast are allowed three overseas players in their squad, with two in the Playing XI on a matchday.

Overseas signing Adam Milne 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 >>>

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 >>>

More information >>>

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