Match Report: Kent Spitfires v Essex Eagles



Kent Spitfires v Essex Eagles

Vitality Blast (South Group)
The Spitfire Ground, Friday 18 September
Team News:

Kent Spitfires: Zak Crawley, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Joe Denly, Heino Kuhn, Sam Billings (c & wk), Alex Blake, Jack Leaning, Grant Stewart, Matt Milnes, Imran Qayyum, Fred Klaassen.

Essex Eagles: Cameron Delport, Tom Westley, Dan Lawrence, Michael Pepper (wk), Ryan ten Doeschate, Paul Walter, Simon Harmer (c), Matt Quinn, Jack Plom, Aron Nijjar, Sam Cook.

Match Details:

Umpires: Martin Saggers & Nigel Llong
Match Referee: Steve Davis
Toss: Essex Eagles who elected to bat
Result: Kent Spitfire win by 4 wickets

Match Report:

Title-holders Essex Eagles are out of the Vitality Blast competition after Kent Spitfires won the clash at Canterbury by 4 wickets with two balls to spare after the Eagles had set their opponents a target of 168.

The match was in the balance when the home side reached 137 for 5 with three overs remaining but Jack Leaning grabbed the initiative, moving to a 30-ball half century to guide the Spitfires over the line.

But it was Grant Stewart that concluded the match in style when sending a full toss from up and coming fast bowler Jack Plom over the ropes to ensure Kent’s place in the quarter-finals.

Plom had earlier claimed three wickets including internationals Zak Crawley and Sam Billings and also that of the prolific Daniel Bell-Drummond to add to his impressive list of victims that started with Hampshire’s James Vince 48 hours earlier. However, Plom would end on the losing side and was to taste the disappointment of conceding the 9 runs that Kent still required when the last over began.

The Eagles, having won the toss and playing the same eleven that beat Hampshire, were indebted to Ryan ten Doeschate who oversaw the addition of 92 runs whilst he was at the crease.

The 40 year-old, yet again, was forced to hold the innings together as others around him perished cheaply. He posted his highest Vitality Blast score of the season but despite a promising start, the Eagles innings faltered and the visitors missed the opportunity of setting a demanding target.

In one productive sequence spanning 13 balls before the end of the third over, Tom Westley hammered six boundaries and Cameron Delport one as the score raced to 35 and Westley continued the onslaught when he cleared the ropes against Stewart to raise a half-century opening partnership stand from just 29 balls, but Westley departed to the next delivery when he picked out Crawley and the innings lost momentum.

Dan Lawrence and Michael Pepper went in the next two overs and when Delport was run out for 28 having faced 25 balls, the Eagles had lost 4 wickets for 24 runs in 21 balls to undo the excellent work at the top of the innings.

At 78 for 4, it was left to Ryan ten Doeschate to find some substance to the Eagles innings. He started this game as the highest Essex run scorer in the competition this year with 203 runs @ 50.75 and improved those figures with a 33-ball contribution of 52 which included 2 sixes and three fours.

Paul Walter struck 19 out of 28 before he was caught at cover while Simon Harmer accompanied ten Doeschate in a partnership worth 41 in 4.1 overs before both batsmen were dismissed within seven balls to leave the Eagles 161 for 7.

Pace man, Fred Klaassen, picked up two of the outstanding wickets to finish with 3 for 36 leaving the visitors to reflect on what could have been.

Kent, who included Sam Billings and Joe Denly following the conclusion of England’s international fixtures, reached the halfway stage of their reply on 78 for 3, having lost Crawley for 9 to Plom’s first delivery. Joe Denly had also fallen for 23 off the bowling of Simon Harmer and Heino Kuhn was dismissed for 3 when he was stumped by Michael Pepper against Aron Nijjar.

Two wickets fell to Plom in three balls to reduce the Spitfires to 80 for 5 as the 21 year-old removed Bell-Drummond, caught by Harmer for 25, and Billings who top-edged to Pepper for 18.

The Eagles were sensing victory and a potential opportunity to qualify for the latter stages of the competition but those hopes were dashed by a partnership worth 67 in 7.2 overs courtesy of Jack Leaning and Alex Blake.

With 21 runs still required Blake was caught at mid-wicket off Matt Quinn for 29 with the first ball of the penultimate over, however, Leaning continued to flourish, guiding his side to victory whilst ending with an unbeaten 55. Leaning was at the non-strikers end when he had the pleasure of watching Grant Stewart thump a full toss over the ropes to conclude the game in style, Stewart ending 8 not out.