My decision to give the Ashes a miss left me able to see more of Essex cricket this summer. Except the weather scuppered my T20 Blast plans! I believed the Met Office when Surrey came to play and took myself off to watch Lion King, only to find I’d missed an outstanding innings from Cameron Delport. Disappointing, but the film was a cracker! Every other T20 game I’ve had a ticket for has been rained off so far!

The World Cup kept me away from the county game, but a 4 day game against one of my favourites, Kent, was too good an opportunity to miss.

The view from the £20 Stand

My good friend Stella and I booked into the Travelodge in Whitstable, then made a mistake with our tickets, spending the £20 to get into the Woolley Stand, when the £15 and our membership card would have sufficed. An error we won’t repeat!

Amir playing his final red ball game

My weekend was made with the announcement that Mohammad Amir would play for Essex, in what would be his final red ball game. He’s become a favourite of mine since his return to the international steam in 2016. He’d had a great spell with Essex in 2018, helping them win the Division 1 title.

Things started well for Essex and Amir when he clean bowled the young Kent opener Zac Crawley. The 20 year old, 6ft 5 opener has over 700 runs to his name this summer. But he added only 5 in this innings.

Jamie Porter opened with Amir and both challenged Sean Dickson, Crawley’s opening partner and Daniel Bell-Drummond who came in at 3. Kent had reached just 11 before the heavens opened. A fair downpour ensued, luckily we’d been sat outside the delightful Lime Tree Café so were able to take cover in some comfort.

The umpires inspected the field at 2pm, they were unhappy with some of the outfield, we had a further delay until 3pm. At 3 it was decided play would start at 3:30. And this is where cricket shoots itself in the foot, tea would be taken at 4:50! Really? The paying audience had been sat round waiting for cricket for 3 hours and we’d only get 80 minutes before tea! That, is ridiculous, I do have to say!

This was clearly a difficult day for batting, Sean Dickson battled well, he faced 50 balls, but made just 8 before he was out; Kent were 23 for 2. Sam Billings, the Kent captain was next in, he looked like a man who hasn’t played much cricket this summer. A dislocated shoulder in April kept him out of the game until July, this was his first red ball game back with the first team. He’s a player who’s had a disrupted career through his inclusion in the England white ball squads, he’s played in only 15 ODi’s but has spent a lot of his time watching from the sidelines. Billings lasted for 10 balls and 10 minutes before being trapped LBW by Sam Cook for 1.

Heino Kuhn was next in, an exciting white ball player, he was bowled by Cook for 6 having faced only 16 balls, Kent were in some strife on 49 for 4, they needed someone to stay with Daniel Bell-Drummond.

Along came 20 year old Ollie Robinson, this was to be a good day for cricketers called Ollie Robinson, the Sussex bowler took 8 for 34 as Middlesex were dismissed for 75. This Robinson came in and put on 68 with Bell-Drummond. Both men doing what those who’d gone before couldn’t. Bell-Drummond batted for just over 3 hours scoring 55 runs, he faced 126 balls before being bowled by Amir. That was ‘proper’ batting.

Robinson had also ‘dug in’ – he batted for 98 minutes, facing 77 balls, he scored 35 before his bails were also sent flying by Amir. Kent were 118 for 6 and the day finished with Darren Stevens and Ollie Rayner at the crease.

Day 2 saw Amir carrying on where he’d left off, it’s unusual to see 4 batsmen clean bowled, especially by the same bowler. Rayner was out for 5, he’d weathered 23 balls and when Stevens was trapped LBW by Cook 3 overs later Kent were 138 for 8.

A good effort from Essex, however Harry Podmore and Matthew Milnes put on 65 for the 9th wicket. Milnes was caught by Cook (AN) from the bowling of Ravi Bopara for 31, Mitch Claydon added another 9 runs before he became Sam Cook’s 5th wicket, caught by Tom Westley. Podmore finished on 54 Not Out and Kent on 226. The day had been rain affected again and a fair amount of time was lost, we were in and out of the Lime Tree Cafe like yo-yo’s!

What happened next is worthy of it’s own post – the remnants day 2 and in particular day 3 saw some incredible cricket!

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