Where to start with this one! Some might and do say that County Cricket is boring, this match was literally edge of the seat exciting!
The first 2 days were rain affected, which was frustrating, but it didn’t spoil the trip down to Canterbury. Essex finished day 2 with a wicket down, Nick Browne was caught by Ollie Rayner from the bowling of Harry Podmore, a great start by Kent’s top scorer in their first innings.
Now, how to do justice to day 3, it may be hard! One of the real benefits of watching cricket in Canterbury is the Lime Tree Cafe, my friend Stella and I settled ourselves outside with our cuppa’s and breakfast, with a good view of the wicket it’s a great place to sit. Essex were starting on 32 for 1 and we were hoping to watch Alastair Cook bat for most of the day. He hasn’t been in the best of form this summer and he didn’t stay for long in this innings, he was trapped LBW by an Essex nemesis Darren Stevens for just 12, Essex were 40 for 1. That was a partnership of 32 for the 2nd wicket.
That proved to be the second biggest partnership of the innings, not helped by both Dan Lawrence and Ravi Bopara being dismissed by Harry Podmore for a Duck apiece, 40 for 1 soon turned into 41 for 4. Tom Westley who’d batted for 99 minutes, facing 71 balls for his 17 runs was despatched in the same manner as Cook and Essex were 49 for 5.
This wasn’t going quite as we’d hoped, Essex surely had a better wicket to bat on with no rain about? It would seem not, captain Ryan ten Doeschate a dynamic batsman, went about things in a careful way, but was also trapped LBW by Stevens for just 6 runs. 58 for 6! Simon Harmer can hold a bat , he was now at the crease with Adam Wheater, another Kent stalwart did for him as Mitch Claydon trapped him LBW for 5, Essex were now 67 for 7!
In came Amir, he’d taken 4 for 48 in Kent’s innings, in this his last red ball game. He made his mark in this innings, top scoring with 28, he and Wheater put on 43 before Amir was caught by Heino Kuhn from the bowling of Ollie Rayner. Wheater followed in the next over, he was caught by Ollie Robinson from the bowling of Podmore. Essex were in disaster mode and on 110 for 9. Just 4 runs were added for the final wicket of Sam Cook and Essex finished on 114, 112 runs behind Kent. Podmore was the pick of the Kent bowlers with 4 for 34. Essex had batted for just 47.3 overs. That didn’t feel like the stuff of potential champions!
Essex needed to restrict Kent, and wow, didn’t they just! I was at Trent Bridge on the day England bowled out Australia for 60, I was also at Lord’s when Ireland bowled out England for just 85. But was happened at Canterbury was like nothing I’ve ever seen before!
In 18.5 overs Kent were bowled out for 40 runs! So, what happened? Sam Cook basically, it felt like he was going to take a wicket with virtually every ball. He bowled 9 overs, including 2 maidens, in the space of those 54 balls he took 7 wickets for just 23 runs, it was literally incredible! I think the best thing to do here is to list the wickets, it’s the kind of scorecard you’ll rarely see. Kent have 4 lower scores – 18, 20, 27 and 37 all in the 1800’s. This 40 all out surpassed their next lowest of 47 which happened 166 years ago.
- Zac Crawley LBW Cook 3
- Sean Dickson LBW Cook 0
- Daniel Bell-Drummond C Harmer b Amir 4
- Sam Billings C Wheater b Amir 0
- Heino Kuhn C Wheater b Cook 5
- Ollie Robinson C Westley b Cook 2
- Darren Stevens LBW Cook 4
- Ollie Rayner LBW Cook 9
- Harry Podmore LBW Cook 0
- Matthew Milnes B Porter 9
- Claydon Not Out 4
- Extras 0
Amir finished with 2 for 16 and 6 for 64 for the match and Sam Cook 7 for 23 and 12 for 65 for the match an astonishing set of figures for the young Essex bowler. All of that added up to a lead of 152 for Kent, a fair few more than Essex had managed in their first innings.
There were a fair few Essex fans at the match, and this one spent most of the Essex second innings on the edge of my seat. They had plenty of time to reach the 153 needed to get the win and keep them top of the table.
There was a very familiar feel to the second innings as Browne was out for just 3, with Stevens (of course) making the early breakthrough. Essex were 5 for 1, wee weren’t going to have another crazy innings were we?
Alastair Cook and Tom Westley put on 46 for the second wicket, Cook had been looking in good nick, when the teams went in for tea, that seemed to break his concentration and he was caught by Rayner from the bowling of Milnes for 29. 51 for 2 turned into 52 for 4, something familiar there as Lawrence and Bopara both went for a Duck, a pair of pairs on the same day! Quite horrible for both men!
That of course kept Kent in the running and the Essex fans biting their nails, Westley and Ten Doeschate did the being patient thing. Westley had batted for 77 minutes for his 25 before he left a ball from Claydon, he left, Claydon hit, he was gone and Essex were 82 for 5. Ten Doeschate was despatched by Claydon in his next over, caught by Robinson, he’d made 17 and Essex were 84 for 6, still in need of 69 to win this match. Kent needed 4 wickets.
One of those elusive things, a partnership was needed. Along came Adam Wheater and Simon Harmer. The spin bowler started his innings stepping down the wicket, in a bid to cut down the likelihood of being trapped LBW I imagine. It worked, or rather it worked long enough to put Essex into a winning position. The pair put on 57, it was nerve wracking and yet quite wonderful! Sorry Kent fans! It took 11 minutes for the winning runs to be scored, fittingly it was Amir who hit them. Essex had won, with 3 wickets to spare, the 16 points were theirs.
This was an amazing day of cricket, who says County Cricket’s boring? I was very glad I was in Canterbury rather than in Leeds to watch England bowled out for 67 today, these low scores seem to be catching! Stella and I celebrated with a Morelli’s ice-cream in Broadstairs, roll on the next round of the County Championship.