Spitfires shot down by perfect Pepper

Kent Spitfires v Essex – Vitality Blast South Group – The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, Canterbury – Report

Kent Spitfires 156 for seven (20.0 overs)

Essex 157 for five (15.0 overs)

Essex won the toss and elected to bowl

Essex won by five wickets

Michael Pepper delivered a sterling batting display helping Essex secure the ‘Battle of the Bridge’ bragging rites and two valuable points in his side’s quest for Vitality Blast South Group qualification.

Following hot on the heels of their eight-wicket success over Hampshire Hawks, Essex took another significant step towards a top-four finish, while condemning Kent to a fifth defeat on the bounce.

Again, Essex took the ball and produced an economical bowling performance, with Match Critchley returning figures of 4-0-28-2, ably supported by skipper Simon Harmer (4-0-32-2) and Ben Allison (4-0-33-2). Meanwhile, during something of a stop-start innings, Sam Billings top-scored for the hosts with 38. Harry Finch finished unbeaten on 24* as Essex were set a modest target of 157.

The chase proved far from straightforward. However, despite claiming the scalps of Dean Elgar, Jordan Cox and Pepper, Nathan Gilchrist went at more than fifteen per over, while Beyers Swanepoel and Xavier Bartlett shipped over ten.

Pepper’s steady 76 came off 42 balls during a 56-minute stint at the crease, including eight 4s and four 6s. Speaking to Fred Atkins from the ECB Reporters Network, he said: “We were three from six before these back-to-back wins so to be five from eight at the end of this block puts us in a good position. We bowled and fielded unbelievably tonight on what we thought was a good wicket. There was a bit of bounce with the new ball, but apart from that we thought it was a nice wicket. To restrict them to 160 was an unbelievable effort from the bowlers.

Essex now turn their attention to the Vitality County Championship Division One title chase when they take on Durham at the Cloud County Ground, on Sunday, June 23-26 (11am).

Kent Spitfires: Z Crawley, DJ Bell-Drummond, MK O’Riordan, SW Billings (Capt)(WK), HZ Finch, JDM Evison, TS Muyeye, B Swanepoel, XC Bartlett, NN Gilchrist, MW Parkinson

Essex: AM Rossington (WK), D Elgar, MS Pepper, JM Cox, PI Walter, MJJ Critchley, CWJ Allison, SR Harmer (Capt), LM Benkenstein, BMJ Allison, AP Beard

Umpires: MJ Saggers and JC Tredwell

Scorers: LAR Hart and P Parkinson

Match Referee: S Hinks

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Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk