Stevens and Jones boost Kent at Chelmsford

Friday 11th May 2012

Men’s First Team

Stevens and Jones boost Kent at Chelmsford

Alastair Cook again failed to reach double figures while Ravi Bopara suffered an injury scare in Essex’s LV=County Championship match against Kent at Chelmsford.

The England opener made just a single before he departed lbw to Mark Davies from the 15th delivery he received. His failure followed efforts of nine and five in his first Championship appearance of the season against Glamorgan last week.

Bopara, in line for a Test recall in next week’s Lord’s opener against the West Indies, suffered a strained quad after bowling a single over before lunch. He left at the end of the day’s play to visit hospital for what was described as "a precautionary scan."
Cook’s inability to find his touch was in stark contrast to Darren Stevens and Geraint Jones who were responsible for an amazing recovery as Essex reached the close on day three on 94 for two, replying to Kent’s 225.

The pair came together on the first day with half their side back in the pavilion with nine runs on the board. Today, with the sun at last putting in a welcome appearance, they warmed to their task by adding 194 in 63 overs. Stevens contributed 119 of those from 170 balls, many of his 16 fours coming with fluent drives on either side of the wicket. He also collected a six over fine leg at the expense of Greg Smith before slicing to point to provide left-arm seamer Charl Willoughby with his fifth wicket of the innings. Jones was last out for 88, an effort containing 10 boundaries, when he drove David Masters into the hands of Willoughby at long-off.

In between, off-spinner Tom Westley picked up three wickets in the space of eight balls at a cost of a single as Kent slumped rapidly following the departure of Stevens.

Apart from the excellent Stevens and Jones, no other Kent batsman reached double figures – with the remaining nine batsmen managing only 11 runs between them.

Willoughby returned figures of five wickets for 70 runs from 20 overs, while Westley took a Championship-best three for five and Masters two for 55. Cook’s dismissal from a ball that nipped back soon had Essex on the back foot and coincided with Andrew Strauss, his England opening partner, also struggling for runs.

Just three runs were on the board as Cook made his way back to the pavilion and, from the next delivery, Westley edged behind a ball which lifted and left him. Westley had found himself promoted to number three because Alviro Petersen had been off the field resting a twisted ankle, while Bopara’s thigh problem kept him out. In their absence Mark Pettini, ably supported by Billy Godleman, launched an Essex revival.

Whilst Godleman was content to drop anchor, Pettini adopted a much more aggressive approach and brought up the 50 with three boundaries in an over from Stevens. He was to go on and complete his own half-century with his seventh boundary – it arrived from 83 balls and came out of the 73 runs scored by Essex at that stage.

By the close, Pettini had moved to 61 and Godleman 27, the latter’s effort so far spanning 118 balls.

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