Match Report: Essex vs. Kent

Match Report: Essex vs. Kent

The return of the LV= Insurance County Championship saw Kent take on Essex at The Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford.

Day Four Report:

The captains shook hands at 16:50 with Essex 68-1 after a game of 1,163 runs, five individual centuries, but only 20 wickets at Chelmsford in Kent’s Championship opener.

Earlier, Jordan Cox had finally departed for 129 at the end of a seven-hour vigil, while Matt Milnes and Jackson Bird became the eighth and ninth players to pass scores of fifty in the match.

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Earlier, Jordan Cox had finally departed for 129 at the end of a seven-hour vigil, while Matt Milnes and Jackson Bird became the eighth and ninth players to pass scores of fifty in the match.

The tone for the day was set from the start when Essex’s Australian debutant Mark Steketee, who had leaked 96 runs from his first 25 overs in English cricket, bowled a four-over opening burst of more accurate line and length without conceding any further runs.

Cox had batted brightly in the early stages of his innings but shrank into his shell as Kent’s batting adopted a no-risk policy. He had added just 29 runs to his overnight score in more than two hours when he popped up a catch to short mid-on off Lawrence.

Milnes, having reached his half-century, launched a six over Critchley’s head. But two balls later he had a rush of blood and picked out substitute Luc Benkenstein on the midwicket boundary.

Bird recorded the fastest fifty of the match having faced just 45 balls when he hit a second six back over Critchley’s head. He had had a reprieve of sorts just before when Cook senior’s first ball induced a thick edge that would have been meat and drink to third slip if his captain had given him one.

Essex batted for 22 overs in their second innings for the loss of Nick Browne, one of the first-innings centurions, who edged Gilchrist to a diving slip for nine.

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Kent head coach Matt Walker said: “I thought we were outstanding with the bat – two hundreds in the camp and four fifties. There were some big partnerships.

“There was some patience shown and understanding of what that wicket was doing, which wasn’t a lot, but you had to play a certain way to be successful on it and I thought everyone applied themselves really well.

“To bat with that confidence was a really good sign for the year. If you start as a batter with runs behind you it gives you confidence to go forward for the next few games. But it was very difficult to win the game when the other side has put 500 on the board.

“Coxy was nursing a bit of a side strain in the back-end of the innings and couldn’t really put his foot down. Perhaps we could have put our foot down on the accelerator a little bit more and given them a sticky half-and-a-half session or so, but it wasn’t to be and it wasn’t necessarily an easy wicket to be able to do that.

“But we come away with 12 points against a good side like Essex and we move on.

“I think Essex would admit it was going to be tricky to get a result out of that wicket, not that it was a bad wicket, it was a good wicket, just not enough in it for the seamers.”

Day Three Report:

Ben Compton became the 13th man to score a first-class hundred on Kent debut to underpin Kent’s batting line-up with a new top score of 129 against Essex.

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The South African-born grandson of Denis, and cousin of Nick, had a previous highest score in this country of just 20, for Nottinghamshire last season, but multiplied that by more than six with a patient 129 as Kent negated Essex’s mammoth first-innings 514.

Once Kent overhauled the follow-on target with only four wickets down, Jordan Cox weighed in with the fifth century of the match. He was unbeaten on 100 at the close with Kent 405-5, just 109 in arrears.

This was Compton’s fourth hundred in all formats since the turn of the year. With a mixture of sound defence and occasional belligerence, he proved a veritable thorn in Essex’s attempt to capitalise on their batting performance.

He started the day in circumspection: he needed 15 deliveries to move off his overnight score, though a well-time pull off Shane Snater also took him to fifty. Tawanda Muyeye followed to his own fifty shortly after with a crisp drive through the covers.

The second-wicket pair had put on 121 in 43 overs when Matt Critchley drew Muyeye forward, no shot being offered, to claim his maiden Essex wicket with the inevitable LBW.

Compton was particularly harsh on Dan Lawrence, who strayed down legside in his first over. Compton flicked two fours off his legs and added a third through midwicket from a full-toss to move swiftly through the 70s into the 80s.

He turned Critchley for the two that took him to three-figures from 220 balls shortly after Lunch.

Compton’s marathon innings ended after a 90-over stay when beaten by a Sam Cook delivery that kept low and he couldn’t jab his bat down quickly enough. He had faced 289 balls and hit 19 fours.

Cox was the more aggressive in the pair’s 123-run third-wicket stand, sending his innings into overdrive with three fours in two overs from Jamie Porter and generally pulling and driving with relish.

Critchley claimed a second wicket when Ollie Robinson was trapped in front, before Cox and Darren Stevens embarked on a cavalier 82-run partnership in 20 overs that scattered the field far and wide.

Stevens became the seventh player in the match to pass fifty, but two balls later he thick-edged Lawrence to Sir Alastair Cook at first slip.

All that was left was for Cox to scamper a quick single in the penultimate over of the day to reach the second hundred of his career.

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Centurion Ben Compton said: “I’m very thrilled to get that score. I just wanted to spend time out there and take everything in: the wicket, being in a new environment. I was glad to get the team off to a good start and spend time out there, those were the things I was looking to do. It’s nice to put in practice the things I’d worked hard in the Winter over.

“My job is to give everything I can to try and get involved. It’s a long road and it’s by no means a sunny day and there will be ups and downs over the Summer. But I’m thrilled and it hasn’t really sunk in yet, to be honest. I’m sure over time I will look back over the innings and be very fond of it.

“You have to enjoy these moments, so I will. On a personal level it’s great to feel that backing from the Club, feel that support. I’m glad I’ve repaid that to some extent.

“I went away this Winter and it did a lot for my cricket. I played in Zimbabwe and both the cricketing experience and the life experience, being in a different part of the world, was good for me and stood me in good stead for this first game.”

Day Two Report:

Kent’s top order was shorn of the likes of Zak Crawley, Jack Leaning, Sam Billings and George Linde for various reasons, but Ben Compton eked out a patient 47 in negotiating 33 overs in the evening and reducing Essex’s lead by 122 runs for the loss of Daniel Bell-Drummond.

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Matt Critchley marked his Essex debut with a century that went up through the gears and heaped more misery on a Kent side kept in the field for five sessions at Chelmsford.

The close-season signing from Derbyshire was finally last man out for 132 as Essex built on the first-wicket platform of 220 established between first-day centurions Sir Alastair Cook and Nick Browne to plunder 514 from an ailing Kent attack. Critchley was finally beaten by an off-break from 21-year-old Tawanda Muyeye.

Conditions were in marked contrast to Day oOne. Gone was the strong wind to be replaced with comparative gentleness; gone, too, was the benign wicket to be replaced in the morning session by one on which some spite and zip was suddenly found by Jackson Bird and Matt Milnes.

Tom Westley discovered the veracity of that when he attempted to fend off one from Bird that rose from a length but ended up in the wicketkeeper’s gloves.

Having reached 41 off 52 balls, however, Essex debutant Rossington fell to the wily old head of Darren Stevens who sent down a delivery that jagged past the outside edge and caressed the off-stump.

Bird, who claimed the three wickets at the top of the Essex order, was the pick of the Kent attack, while Gilchrist picked up three less auspicious scalps, adding Shane Snater and Mark Steketee towards the end of Essex’s innings.

Compton, another of those making their debut, led the Kent response but lost fellow opener Bell-Drummond LBW to Sam Cook in the eighth over. However, he found a willing partner in Muyeye and the pair took advantage of anything loose to eat into Essex’s total.

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Kent’s Jackson Bird took three key wickets and said: “It was nice to get a couple of wickets yesterday – it would have been better if they’d been earlier in the day than the 86th over! But it was tough work out there yesterday.

“The wind took the life out of the wicket a little bit – there wasn’t much swing because of how windy it was. So it was a bit of a grind bowling from that bottom end. I guess once the wind settled down in that last session it started to do a little bit more. But the conditions yesterday were probably the worst of my career.

“This morning once the new-ball wore down a bit it lost its bounce and zip off the wicket pretty quickly. The new-ball has probably got 20 overs in it before it goes soft, so that was the case this morning: the first couple of overs had a bit of zip and then it flattened out.

“Tomorrow is a big day for us. The first hour is going to be very important to get through that unscathed. Hopefully we can build on the good start we had today. That’s pretty much all we’re looking at at the moment: obviously score when we can and not lose too many wickets.”

Day One Report:

Essex openers Sir Alastair Cook and Nick Browne battled through fierce winds to record a 220-run stand that threatened to demoralise Kent on the opening day of the LV= Insurance County Championship at Chelmsford, before the visitors took four wickets to leave the hosts 272/4 at Close.

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It took the men of Kent exactly five and a half hours of unremitting toil and strife to finally break the stubborn partnership when Australian International debutant Jackson Bird forced Browne into a mistake in an innings that spanned 253 balls, contained 13 fours and brought him 107 runs.

Browne’s dismissal did not upset Cook’s concentration, at least in the short term, and the former England captain duly clocked up the 70th century of his distinguished career before driving loosely at Bird four balls later and edging behind for 100.

It was an overcoat and bobble hat sort of day for spectators and equally uncomfortable out in the middle where blustery conditions had bowlers aborting run-ups, chasing to retrieve caps blown off.

Cook, in particular, seemed the more unsettled by the wind early on if not by the benign wicket. His contribution had been just seven runs in the first hour.

The 200-run stand was reached when Browne abandoned normal restraint and bounced down the wicket and lofted a full-toss from rookie offspinner Tawanda Muyeye over the midwicket boundary.

He followed that by whipping Bird’s first delivery with the new-ball through the onside to record the 13th boundary of his innings and the 17th first-class century of his career. His innings was stilled in Bird’s next over when Kent’s Australian recruit had Browne groping at a fullish ball to let one through the gate – Jordan Cox theatrically took a “catch” off the bails at first slip, such was the speed of the delivery.

Cook went to his hundred when he glanced Matt Milnes for a quick single. It had taken 262 balls. But Bird dismissed the former England opener, loosely driving at a full ball to a grateful Ollie Robinson, Kent’s stand-in skipper, behind the stumps.

Matt Quinn, on his return to the Cloud County Ground after joining Kent permanently from Essex in the Summer, had Dan Lawrence LBW shouldering arms to one that nipped back.

Nathan Gilchrist trapped Jamie Porter for nought to end Essex’s nightwatch after just two deliveries.

After losing their first wicket at the 220-run mark, Essex had lost four wickets for 52 runs by the end of the day.

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Kent head coach Matt Walker said: “It’s always good to finish a day well. I thought we did well all day actually.

“The only thing that was missing was something in the wickets column. But I thought we did enough to deserve a couple of wickets. Cook and Browne played very well.

“We tried everything, stuck to our plans really, really well. They gave us very little chance, but we kept plugging away. We knew if we stuck to our guns something would happen and eventually it came, a bit late in the day, but in the end it was pretty even-stevens.

“Jackson’s just off the plane and been here just under a week. He’s been playing, you could tell that.

“He’s a bit different, but I thought he bowled beautifully. I thought they all did. They all played their part really well today and that was key. It was great to see Jackson come in with a couple of wickets.

“It’ll give him plenty of confidence and he deserves it, he bowled beautifully. I’m looking forward to seeing him more and I’m sure there will be more days to come.”

Next Home Match:

Kent face Lancashire at the first competitive match of 2022 at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence in Canterbury

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