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Tickets still available for the big match at the Brit Oval

Wednesday 7th July 2010

Kent Spitfires v Essex Eagles
Friends Provident t20 – South Division
Friday, 9 July 2010. 5.30pm start
The Brit Oval, Kennington

The long awaited ‘home“ clash at The Brit Oval is now finally upon us as the Kent Spitfires take on the Essex Eagles in this latest high profile FPt20 clash. With a bumper crowd expected, and the forecast set for blazing sunshine, it promises to be a thrilling encounter and is one that both sides need to win.

The Spitfires currently lie a place off the bottom of the south division and time is running out in their bid to claim a top-four place to qualify for a quarter-final berth. The Eagles, on the other hand, are soaring. They currently occupy second-place, behind Sussex Sharks, but with seven wins from 11 games they look well set to qualify.

Kent come into the game on the back of a morale-boosting victory over the Gloucestershire Gladiators in their last t20 outing at the St Lawrence Ground last Sunday. Batting first, the home side posted a solid 165 as Martin van Jaarsveld (59) and Joe Denly (44) led the way at the top of the innings. A fine team effort with the ball then helped secure the win. New Zealander James Franklin looked to be setting up a victory bid for the Gladiators with 40 but Malinga Bandara (3-27) and two wickets apiece from Azhar Mahmood and Amjad Khan led the Spitfires to a 12 run win to keep their slim hopes of qualification alive.

The Eagles were also in t20 action last Sunday and were clinical in disposing of the Hampshire Royals at Chelmsford. Even though they were struggling at 90-5, Hampshire managed to blast their way up to 161 thanks to a 27-ball 59 from Nic Pothas. Former-Kent seam bowler David Masters was the pick of the Eagles attack, returning figures of 2-19. Kent nemesis Grant Flower then struck 54, in the reply, to setup a three wicket win for Essex as the talented Jaik Mickleburgh hit the winning runs with a ball to spare.

The two sides met at Chelmsford on the opening night of this year“s t20 competition and produced a real classic in front of the sky television cameras. Back in early June, the Eagles batted first and despite Darren Stevens (2-29) and Simon Cook (2-15) reducing them to 24-4, all-rounder Ryan ten Doeschate launched an incredible counter-attack. The Dutch master-blaster smashed seven maximums in his 47-ball 98 as he powered the Eagles up to a competitive 167.

In their reply, the Spitfires started solidly but soon stuttered to 62-3 when van Jaarsveld holed out in the deep on eight. The rebuilding work between Stevens and Geraint Jones started slowly until one over from left-arm spinner Tim Phillips changed the game. With the run-rate rising, the duo attacked Phillips and took him for 27 off his solitary over. The burst sparked the chase and in the end the Spitfires cruised to victory with six wickets and eight balls remaining. Jones made 54 from 34 balls before Stevens saw them home with an unbeaten 49 from 28 balls in an impressive chase.

More of the same in front of a good crowd at the Brit Oval will do nicely for the Spitfires and their fans.

Kent currently face an injury crisis as they enter an important stage of the season. Captain Rob Key broke his little finger in the LV=CC defeat to Hampshire in the week and faces up to four weeks on the sidelines. In that same match, Khan picked up a strain to his left hamstring, not the right one he injured against Essex at Tunbridge Wells, and is likely to be out for ten days. The home side will also be without spinner James Tredwell who is currently on international duty for England as they take on Bangladesh in the latest NatWest Series. The Spitfires will however be boosted by the return of in-form batsman Darren Stevens has he returns from a successful stint with the England Lions.

Team director Paul Farbrace has named a 13-man squad for the game: van Jaarsveld (C), Denly, Hockley, Jones (W), Stevens, Blake, Mahmood, Coles, Bandara, Cook, Joseph, Shaw, Goodman

Tickets are still available. The cost is £20 for adults and £10 for juniors. To purchaseclick hereor call 0207 820 5700