Eagles are off to a flyer with ‘Battle of the Bridge’ triumph

Brian Jeeves
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Kent Spitfires v Essex Eagles – Vitality Blast South Group – St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury – Team News

Kent Spitfires 184/4 (20.0 overs)

Essex Eagles 188/6 (19.4 overs)

Kent Spitfires won the toss and elected to bat

Essex Eagles won by four wickets

Essex Eagles got their Vitality Blast campaign off to a flying start with a four-wicket victory over reigning champions, Kent Spitfires at the St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury.

A sizable crowd took full advantage of a warm evening, largely hoping to see the homes side recover from Wednesday’s crushing eight-wicket defeat at the hands of Somerset. However, the Spitfires’ defence of the title continued to falter,

But the evening had begun brightly for Kent. Opening pair, Zak Crawley and Daniel Bell-Drummond set off at a ferocious pace, putting on 62 for the opening wicket – Aaron Nijjar claiming Bell-Drummond for 31. Crawley reached 40 off 29 balls before he was trapped lbw by Eagles skipper, Simon Harmer.

Aaron Nijjar claimed the wicket of Daniel Bell-Drummond for 31 (Courtesy of Essex CCC Media)

Joe Denly chipped in with 35, while Spitfires’ skipper, Sam Billings did the lion’s share of the damage, hitting 48 off 31 deliveries during a 41-minute stint at the crease. Nijjar (1/26), Matt Critchley (1/16), Harmer (1/30) and debutant, Dan Sams (1/47) were rewarded for their toil against a potent top order.

Unphased, the Essex chase began positively. The visitors’ reached 48 before wicketkeeper/batter, Adam Rossington was deceived in the middle of the fifth over having scored 29 off 16 – Fred Klaassen emphatically removing his off-stump. Meanwhile, Will Buttleman appeared set before hooking Kamawal to Crawley on 37. 

Matt Milnes sent Critchley’s middle stump cartwheeling to leave Essex on 112/4 but with a favourable run rate.

George Linde and Klaassen’s attempts to stem the tide were counteracted by Paul Walter and Tom Westley who put together 37 for the sixth wicket. Westley returning to the pavilion, run out by the quick-thinking Billings.

Harmer carried the fight. His unbeaten 21 from 11 ensured Essex went into the final over in the driving seat. 

Simon Harmer scored 21 off eleven balls as Essex Eagles saw off Kent Spitfires by four wickets at Canterbury (Courtesy of Essex CCC Media)

Walter, who batted superbly for his 47*, hit Milnes across the rope to confirm the perfect start for the 2019 winners.

Essex Eagles return to Vitality Blast action on Sunday, May 29 when they face Somerset at the Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton (4pm).

Kent Spitfires: Z Crawley, DJ Bell-Drummond, JL Denly, SW Billings (Capt) (WK), JA Leaning, JM Cox, GF Linde, QA Kamawal, ME Milnes, FJ Klaassen, MR Quinn

Essex Eagles: WEL Buttleman, AM Rossington (WK), MS Pepper, MJJ Critchley, PI Walter, T Westley, DR Sams, SR Harmer (Capt), ASS Nijjar, BMJ Allison, SJ Cook

Umpires: M Newell and MJ Saggers

Scorers: LAR Hart and P Parkinson

Match Referee: Mike Smith

Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk