Match Report: Essex Eagles vs. Kent Spitfires

Match Report: Essex Eagles vs. Kent Spitfires

Before their first Royal London Cup of the season at Canterbury on Sunday, Kent Spitfires faced-off against Essex Eagles at the Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford.

Kent Spitfires came out second best against the Eagles on a warm Summer’s evening across the Thames.

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Tom Westley’s century laid the foundations for a 182-run victory, with a third-wicket partnership of 184 in 30 overs with newcomer Grant Roelofsen. Westley contributed 109 from 101 balls, while Roelofsen chipped in with a 79-ball 77.

However, that Essex were able to set a target of 332 was largely thanks to a late burst of 41 from 22 deliveries by Shane Snater that steadied a ship that at one stage looked in danger of running aground. Kent’s 20-year-old seamer Joey Evison took some stick but finished with career-best figures of 3-62.

Ben Compton anchored the Kent reply, but despite his innings of 52 from 82 balls, wickets fell all around him.

Essex – who elected to bat on a phew-what-a-scorcher sort of afternoon on a flat pitch – lost two wickets in six balls. Feroze Khushi was first to go when he got a leading edge to give Quinn a return catch. Fellow opener Josh Rymell followed lbw.

Westley accelerated through his eighties, the handbrake off, with three fours in an over from Nathan Gilchrist that ultimately cost 19 runs. A characteristic flick off his legs for his 13th four took Westley to a 96-ball century.

Roelofsen’s anchorman role came to an end after 79 balls with a momentary lapse of concentration when Navdeep Saini sent his middle-stump cartwheeling. Westley followed almost immediately when he scooped Joe Denly to Evison on the fence at long-on.

That wicket-taking combination was reversed with Denly taking a spectacular diving catch at mid-on off Evison to account for Aaron Beard. Four balls later Aron Nijjar, like Westley, picked out Evison on the rope to hand Qadri a wicket.

With Essex slipping from 217-2 to 250-6 in five overs, it needed some agricultural hitting from Snater to push Essex towards a defendable total.

In response, Kent lost Tawanda Muyeye in the sixth over trying to play Jamie Porter to leg but falling to Robin Das at point.

Ollie Robinson attacked from the start, hitting two sixes in his 31 before he flicked Porter to deep extra cover where Shane Snater tumbled to claim what was given by the umpires as a clean catch. Snater’s drop of Denly was not costly as three runs later Khushi took a stunning catch above his head at short cover.

Kent’s fourth wicket went when Alex Blake flicked Jamal Richards into Beard’s hands on the square-leg boundary. Harry Finch managed just a dozen from 28 balls before he chipped Snater to mid-on.

Evison followed going for a second run to Snater in the deep and Roelofsen, behind the stumps, completed the run-out.

All the time Compton was slowly accumulating, but at no great pace. His fifty took 76 balls – Westley’s had taken 44, Roelofsen 52 – and included just two fours.

But as soon as he had raised his bat, he started to run out of partners as Snater claimed three wickets in an over before completing the win by removing Compton.

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Kent coach Simon Cook said: “The toss was actually the difference. You come here on a pitch that wasn’t obviously used, but it had been used earlier on in the year for a four-day game. We knew it was going to deteriorate and get worse. We were planning to bat first as well. They definitely got the best of the batting conditions. We saw that once we had taken the wickets of Westley and Roelofsen that wickets fell pretty swiftly for them as well.

“But as our innings went on you saw that batting became harder and harder. To be fair to them they knew how they were going to bowl on it – they bowled lots of cutters and used the big side really well – and the run rate got strangled. As a result the pressure builds and you lose a couple of wickets and the snowball becomes bigger and bigger until you see the end result which is us 150 all out.

“The only thing I said to the players after this innings was that I don’t think we needed to go into our shells, even on a pitch like this. We needed to take strong, positive, calculated options. I felt we were probably a bit timid and we could have fired a couple of punches back at them for them to think about. I want to see us not go into our shells and still maintain that positive outlook which we’ve had at the start of this tournament.”

Tickets are still available for Kent’s first Royal London Cup match this Sunday against the Northamptonshire Steelbacks.

A day out for all the family, extra special activities are being planned for this Sunday’s showdown in Canterbury for all ages, with Junior tickets just £5 when bought before matchday.

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