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Napier stars, but Kent in control at Chelmsford

Wednesday 22nd May 2013

Men’s First Team

Essex recovered from an early afternoon slump to post 212 on the opening day of their LV= County Championship Division Two match against Kent at Chelmsford.

All-rounder, Graham Napier continued his great start to the season, contributing 58, the fifth time in his last eight innings that he has passed 50.

He arrived to do battle with his side in serious trouble at 109 for six but mixed a certain amount of caution with controlled aggression to collect five fours and a six in an effort spanning 79 deliveries.

Napier was finally undone by medium-paced seamer Darren Stevens when he clipped the ball to mid-wicket where Brendan Nash took a smart catch low down.

His dismissal came shortly after that of James Foster, the pair repairing the Essex innings with a partnership of 88 in 23 overs.

Both batsmen made progress with confident drives and cuts. The stand was broken when Foster's attempted square drive against paceman Charlie Shreck ended up in the hands of Matt Coles in the slip cordon when just three short of his half-century.

The only other stand of note featured openers Tom Westley and Jaik Mickleburgh after Kent had gambled on putting their opponents in after winning the toss.

In overcast conditions which favoured swing and seam, they batted with patience and tenacity to launch the innings on firm foundations.

It yielded 67 in 29 overs but it was not until the 11th over that four leg byes sent the total into double figures.

Mark Davies was to break the stand when he bowled Westley for 30 just before lunch, immediately after which four more wickets fell for 10 runs in the space of 32 deliveries.

Among them was Ravi Bopara who was still seeking to get off the mark when fast bowler Davies had him caught by Stevens in the gully.

It was Davies who also ended the resistance of Mickleburgh as Coles held a comfortable catch at second slip , while Shreck removed Ben Foakes and Ryan ten Doeschate in the same over to leave Essex 77 for five.

Mark Pettini hung around long enough to send the total into three figures before Napier and Foster stopped the rot.

Stevens was to wrap up the innings on his way to figures of four for 36 from 23 overs while Davies and Shreck finished with three for 31 and three for 61 respectively.

Left with 12 overs before the close, Kent lost Rob Key, who was caught behind off David Masters, in reaching 20 for one.

Click here for the ECB scorecard

Photo: Sarah Ansell