Friday night T20 time arrived and a ‘local derby’ clash was on the cards. July 1st should have meant it was summer, but nope, not in England in 2016, I spent most of the day at home watching cloud and a fair amount of rain. Summer dress weather? Absolutely not! Jeans and a fairly thick cricket sweater plus jacket – and I still didn’t have enough on! We were lucky from a rain point of view but my goodness it got chilly!
Kent had leapfrogged Essex in the County Championship earlier in the week, taking top spot, making their County Championship clash to follow of extra significance. However neither team had been excelling in the white ball game, Kent had played 8 and won 3, Essex played 7 and similarly won 3.
It would be very interesting to know the thought process behind the decision made when the toss is won, Kent won the toss and decided to put Essex in to bat, that was to prove to be a bad choice. However with Kagiso Rabada added to their bowling armoury it was an understandable move.
Jesse Ryder and Kishen Velani opened the batting for Essex, my last visit to the County Ground saw Ryder out first ball against Gloucester, he was facing Rabada and faced a very similar fate, he edged a ball to Sam Billings on the 3rd ball, not a bad start for the young South African! Ryder returned with another duck, at least it wasn’t a golden one this time.
Tom Westley, another Essex batsman coached by Graham Gooch is growing in stature as the season goes on, Velani at just under 22 is also looking more assured at the crease. The pair weren’t fazed to be facing one of the stars of the bowling world and seemed settled. However their partnership was broken by one of the most ridiculous run outs I’ve seen this season – and I’ve seen a few! They ran into each other – how on earth does that happen? That left Velani floundering and he didn’t make his crease as Sam Northeast put in a perfect throw, Velani had made 19 but had looked in the mood to make a lot more!
Limited overs captain Ravi Bopara joined Westley, it felt as if he needed runs, and wow he certainly came out with a big innings in mind, he seemed to be seeing the white ball as if it was the size of a football!
Westley was looking in good form, scoring 33 before he was caught and bowled by the experienced James Tredwell, he was clearly cross with himself, but, back to the pavilion he went. Ashar Zaidi was next in, an all rounder from Pakistan he’s had fun since he joined Essex and this match saw him open his shoulders and throw his bat around.
Bopara and Zaidi gave a virtual master call in T20 batting, I must confess to being a bit uncouth when watching the white ball game, not in a sweary way, but in an, I can’t stop myself shouting when a four or six is hit way. In this case Bopara made 81 runs with 4 fours and 6 sixes included and Zaidi hit 54 with 5 fours and 3 sixes! That equalled lots of unladylike yelling.
Essex finished their innings with 204 for 3 on the board, that felt like a high T20 score, but I had seen Essex score 225 against Sussex in 2014 only to see Luke Wright smash 153 to help his team win with balls to spare. The Kent batting line up is a classy one, could they chase a score of 205?
I should probably confess here that I am an Essex fan, but an admirer of the top order for Kent, I was looking forward to seeing them bat. Daniel Bell Drummond was missing through a hand injury but there is a lot of class in those lairy Kent outfits.
However on this night it was to be the Essex bowlers, with input from their fielding team mates who prevailed. With Wahab Riaz joining Pakistan for the England series and Adam Milne unavailable due to injury, the decision had been taken by Essex not to replace either with another overseas signing, but to show faith in their existing squad.
The extraordinarily tall (from the viewpoint of someone vertically challenged, he must be over 6.5 feet!) Paul Walter took the ball for the first over, he also took the first wicket in that over, sending Joe Denly’s stumps flying! Cue more shouting on my part! Kent were 1 for 1 – another eventful first over.
Tom Latham was joined by his captain Sam Northeast, one of those Kent batsmen I find a joy to watch, but was hoping wouldn’t make too many runs against my team. The 2 looked set and had made 48 before Graham Napier came on to bowl – he got the breakthrough as Northeast nicked the ball to James Foster, he’d made 23 and Essex had a very valuable wicket.
Sam Billings, a bright young star was up next, he moves around the batting order depending on how things are going for Kent, his input was needed at this point, with a big total to chase.
Latham was next to fall, to a great catch by Jesse Ryder from the bowling of Napier again, he was certainly making his mark. He’d scored 29 valuable runs. I must say at this point that with the light fading my photos don’t feature the Kent batsmen too much as my camera seems to dislike gloomy cricket.
Alex Blake joined Billings; Jesse Ryder may not have had a good evening with the bat, but he was on fire in the field, a direct hit saw the classy Billings run out for 18. Another waste of a wicket. Kent were on 78 for 4 and chasing runs.
The experienced Darren Stevens was next up, he was also the next run out – this time captain Ravi Bopara acting quickly see the stumps fly, chasing runs was causing the Kent batsmen to be slightly foolhardy (sorry Kent). Stevens had scored 12 and Kent were 98 for 5 with only 7.5 overs remaining.
Fabian Cowdrey, son of Chris and Grandson of Colin was next, he and Blake put on 39 runs before Blake, who top scored for Kent with 37, was caught by Ryan ten Doeschate from the bowling of Matt Quinn. Kent were on 137 for 6 and had 28 balls to face.
Essex took a further 3 wickets, with Walter adding 2 to his tally, including a great caught and bowled that despatched Cowdrey. Kent finished their 20 overs on 154 for 9, 50 runs short of the total made by the home team.
Pride will be at stake as well as a place at the top of the table when the teams face each other in the County Championship – I’d better make sure I leave the yelling behind!