Inclement weather moves in to thwart Essex

Brian Jeeves

Essex v Kent – LV= Insurance County Championship Division One – Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford – Day Three – Report

Essex 530/7 (dec) and 257 for four (dec)

Kent 413 and 164 for seven

Essex won the toss and elected to bat

Match Drawn

Inclement weather conditions frustrated Essex’s attempt to record back-to-back LV= Insurance County Championship Division One victories, as they were forced to share the spoils with old adversaries Kent at the Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford.

However, Kent debutant Jadyn Denly played an important role in securing a draw with a resolute batting performance which left the hosts frustrated.

Denly dug in for 128 balls, scoring 41, rebuffing Essex’s attempts, which included four for 20 from Jamie Porter. 

Jamie Porter (Courtesy of Essex Cricket)

Earlier in the contest, Essex had declared their first innings on 530 for seven. Matt Critchley finished unbeaten on 151 – his highest first-class score. Meanwhile, Dean Elgar hit 120 off 176 balls during a productive knock which included eighteen boundaries. George Garrett and Matt Parkinson claimed two wickets apiece for the overwhelmed Kent attack.

Essex’s Matt Critchley was unbeaten on 151 (Courtesy of Kieran Galvin ActionFotoSport)

However, any initial thoughts of a cakewalk for Essex were extinguished by Ben Compton’s masterful 165, coupled with 135 from skipper Daniel Bell-Drummond. Critchley claimed five for 105, while there were two-wicket hauls for Porter and Shane Snater as the visitors were dismissed for 413, 117 in arrears.

Kent’s Ben Compton hit 165 (Courtesy of Kieran Galvin ActionFotoSport)

Cox took charge with the bat as Essex extended that advantage further, scoring an unbeaten 116 against his former employers as Kent were set a target of 375 to record an unlikely victory. 

Despite sliding to 65/5, Denly’s mature performance -including a useful partnership with his uncle Joe – kept Kent’s head above water.

Speaking to Martin Smith from the ECB Reporters Network, Essex Head Coach, Anthony McGrath, said: “I think yesterday was our best day of cricket so far this season. First of all to bowl them out on a pretty flat and benign pitch and getting nine wickets and then batting the way we did was outstanding.

 “We wanted to try and bowl at them the whole day today and we didn’t think we would be quite as many ahead as we were last night. That was mainly due to the way that Jordan Cox played, he was absolutely magnificent. I think the last fifteen overs last night, we got about 160 runs through him and Pepps.

  “It was just a shame that we didn’t have the opportunity of bowling at them all day today. You never know in April with the English weather, we thought the weather might have passed through by 11am which would have given us the full 96 overs but we lost that first session.

 “The pitch this week never gave the bowlers much assistance so it was always going to be tough but the lads created chances to get them seven down. I think having to come off when we did just coming into that last hour killed our momentum a little bit, we were really on a roll at that point.

“But look, it’s April and you expect these kinds of things with the weather at this time.  Overall, I think we have been superb this week. I’m really proud of the guys, they never give in, they are really resilient and they give everything.”

Essex returns to LV= Insurance County Championship Division One action on Friday, April 19-22, when they face Lancashire at the Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford (11am).

Essex: D Elgar, FIN Khushi, T Westley (Capt), JM Cox, MJJ Critchley, PI Walter, MS Pepper (WK), SR Harmer, S Snater, AP Beard, JA Porter

Kent: BG Compton, TS Muyeye, DJ Bell-Drummond (Capt), JA Leaning, JL Denly, HZ Finch (WK), JK Denly, WA Agar, NN Gilchrist, MW Parkinson, GA Garrett

Umpires: ID Blackwell and GD Lloyd

Scorers: P Parkinson and LAR Hart

Match Referee: P Whitticase

Elsewhere in the LV= Insurance County Championship Division One, Surrey drew with Somerset at the Kia Oval.

Tom Lammonby hit a first-innings century for the visitors, while Dom Sibley repeated the feat for the hosts. Dan Lawrence’s maiden half-century was insufficient, despite a gallant effort from the Surrey to plunder an unlikely victory.

In Division Two, no play was possible on the last day at Wantage Road between Northamptonshire and Middlesex.

Max Holden finished unbeaten on 211, and Leus du Plooy 196* for Middlesex, while 19-year-old left-hander, Nathan Fernandes took the plaudits by becoming their youngest first-class centurion on debut since 1862. 

Earlier, Emilio Gay hit 261, while James Sales was unbeaten on 113 for the home side.

Brian Jeeves