Match Report: Essex v Kent


Essex v Kent

LV= Insurance County Championship
The Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford, Thursday 07 – Sunday 10 April


Team News:

Essex: Nick Browne, Alastair Cook, Tom Westley (c), Dan Lawrence, Matt Critchley, Adam Rossington, Adam Wheater (wk), Shane Snater, Mark Steketee, Sam Cook, Jamie Porter.

Kent: Ben Compton, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Joe Denly, Tawanda Muyeye, Jordan Cox, Ollie Robinson (c & wk), Darren Stevens, Matt Milnes, Nathan Gilchrist, Jackson Bird, Matt Quinn.

Match Details:

Umpires: Paul Pollard & Nick Cook
Match Referee: Simon Hicks
Toss: Kent, who elected to bowl
Result: Match drawn

Scorecard: View Here

Day One Highlights:

Day One Reaction: Nick Browne

Day One Match Report:

Essex openers Alastair Cook and Nick Browne battled through fierce winds to record a 220-run stand that threatened to demoralise Kent on the opening day of the LV= Insurance County Championship at Chelmsford.

It took the men of Kent exactly five and a half hours of unremitting toil and strife to finally break the stubborn partnership when Australian debutant Jackson Bird forced Browne into his only mistake in an innings that spanned 253 balls, contained 13 fours and brought him 107 runs.

Browne’s dismissal did not upset Cook’s concentration and the former England captain duly clocked up the 70th century of his distinguished career before edging behind for 100.

However, Kent fought back later in the day with a succession of wickets that left Essex on 272-4 at the close.

It was an overcoat and bobble hat sort of day for spectators and equally uncomfortable out in the middle where blustery conditions had bowlers aborting run-ups and chasing to retrieve caps blown off. A damp outfield in the morning also turned potential fours into twos.

Cook, in windy conditions, was watchful during the beginning of his innings. Browne, in contrast, scored quickly and even after slowing down his initial rate of scoring brought up his fifty in 109 balls shortly after lunch.

At the time of Browne’s fifty, Cook was into his stride and had moved on to 34. He was typically strong against the short ball and punished former Essex teammate Matt Quinn every time he pulled his length back.

Browne was consistently strong when straight-driving and reached his half-century with a sweet shot through mid-off that slowed up just short of the boundary to yield two.

It is not often that Cook’s strike-rate is overshadowed significantly by his opening partner, but he faced 31 more balls than Browne to reach his fifty– and took nearly an hour longer – before he flicked Matt Milnes off his legs in familiar style.

However, when Cook rolled his wrists to pull Daniel Bell-Drummond for four, he had moved to within one run of Browne, whose total he overhauled for the first time in the following over. It then became a race to be the first to reach three-figures, a race ultimately won by the junior partner.

Before that landmark, the 200-run stand was reached when Browne charged down the wicket to loft a full-toss from rookie offspinner Tawanda Muyeye over the midwicket boundary.

He followed that by whipping Bird’s first delivery with the new ball through the onside to record the 13th boundary of his innings and the 17th first-class century of his career.

Suddenly memories were revived of the pair’s 373-run first-wicket stand against Middlesex at the same ground five years ago. But that was stilled in Bird’s next over when Kent’s Australian recruit had Browne groping at a fullish ball.

Cook went to his hundred when he glanced Matt Milnes for a quick single. It had taken 262 balls. But Bird dismissed Cook, Quinn had Lawrence lbw shouldering arms to one that nipped back, and Nathan Gilchrist trapped nightwatchman Jamie Porter for nought to salvage some hope for Kent on a day that firmly belonged to the home side.

Day Two Highlights:

Day Two Reaction: Matt Critchley

Day Two Match Report:

Matt Critchley marked his Essex debut with a century that went up through the gears and heaped more misery on a Kent side kept in the field for five sessions at Chelmsford.

The close-season signing from Derbyshire was finally last man out for 132 as Essex built on the first-wicket platform of 220 established between first-day centurions Alastair Cook and Nick Browne to plunder 514 from an ailing Kent attack.

Critchley was finally bowled by 21-year-old rookie Tawanda Muyeye after an innings where he accelerated through the gears. In the process he shared stands of 94 with Adam Wheater and 65 Adam Rossington.

Rossington, also on debut, made a punchy 41 including a number of eye-catching drives to cap off a day to savour for the Essex debutants.

Kent’s top order was shorn of the likes of Zak Crawley, Jack Leaning, Sam Billings and George Linde for various reasons, but Ben Compton eked out a patient 47 in negotiating 33 overs in the evening and reducing Essex’s lead by 122 runs.

The only wicket to fall was that of Daniel Bell-Drummond who was caught plumb in front by Sam Cook during a typically probing opening spell.

Earlier on in the day the Kent bowlers found some zip and bounce from the pitch and Tom Westley discovered the veracity of that when he attempted to fend off one from Bird that rose from a length but ended up in the wicketkeeper’s gloves.

Critchley and Rossington grabbed the opportunity to ease themselves in to life at their new home during an impressive sixth-wicket partnership. Rossington, who only signed on loan from Northants at the start of the week, married aggression with some majestic strokes: a lovely cover drive for four off Matt Quinn was followed by effortless straight drives to the boundary from successive deliveries.

Critchley had played the anchor role but was no less flamboyant than Rossington when the chance arose: there was an elegant a back-foot four off Nathan Gilchrist and a well-executed pull to the boundary that took him to fifty.

Critchley, now taking over as the dominant batsmen, accelerated after lunch and reached the fifth century of his career with a straight-driven four off Quinn. Once three-figures had been reached, Critchley celebrated with maximums over Muyeye’s head, one of which clanged straight into one of the camera’s needed for the live stream, and a pull over square leg off Gilchrist.

Wheater took time to play himself in, but once he got going bludgeoned the ball to various corners of the ground for his 37 before being bowled by Quinn.

Compton, another of those making their debut, led the Kent response and after the loss of Daniel Bell-Drummond found a willing partner in Muyeye. The pair finished on 47 and 43 respectively, but have a long way to go with a deficit of 392.

Day Three Highlights:

Day Three Reaction:

Day Three Match Report:

The Essex bowlers toiled hard in the field on another day when bat dominated ball at Chelmsford.

A pair of wickets on debut for Matt Critchley was the highlight during a day where there was little to cheer for the bowlers who, hard as they tried, struggled to make inroads into a resilient Kent batting line up.

Resuming the day on 122-1, Kent lost just the one wicket during the opening session when Tawanda Muyeye was trapped in front on 53 to give Matt Critchley his first wicket for the Club.

Steady progress was made by the Kent batters after lunch as Ben Compton became the second debutant of the match to score a hundred. He found good company in Jordan Cox, who later went on to record a century of his own, the fifth of the match.

Compton was eventually removed for 129 by an excellent Sam Cook delivery that nipped between bat and pad.

The eldest statesman of county cricket Darren Stevens came to the crease after Matt Critchley claimed his second wicket, and second lbw, of the game when he dismissed Kent skipper Ollie Robinson for 12.

Stevens played an innings that county crowds have come to expect of him as he played strongly off the front foot in recording a punchy 51. During his knock, Kent surpassed the follow-on target and saw the game head towards a likely draw.

Stevens was dismissed late in the day by Dan Lawrence who pushed one across him and teased an edge to Alastair Cook at slip.

Cox brought up his hundred with a sharp single to mid-off in the final throws of the day and finished not out on exactly 100 with new batter Matt Milnes not out on 2 at the end of Day Three.

Kent will resume tomorrow on 405-5 as the Essex bowlers will look for early wickets to force an unlikely result from a game which looks set to end in a deadlock.

Day Four Highlights:

Day Four Match Report:

Dan Lawrence, having quickly established himself with the bat in the England middle-order, made a case to be taken seriously as a bowler with career-best figures as Essex and Kent played out an inevitable draw at Chelmsford.

Not only did the occasional off-spinner record figures of 3-98, but Lawrence’s 24-and-a-half-over stint was more than double anything he had ever been asked to produce in an innings. At the other end, Matt Critchley plugged away for a marathon spell of 46 overs, taking 4-114 on his Essex debut.

The day also saw Alastair Cook turn his arm over as Kent batted for 187 overs in their first innings to eventually eclipse Essex’s total of 514. It was not until the cusp of tea on the fourth day that Kent lost their ninth and final wicket – Joe Denly being unable to bat because of a hamstring injury – to finish on 581.

The captains shook hands at 4.50 pm with Essex 68-1 after a game of 1,163 runs, five individual centuries, but only 20 wickets. Earlier, Jordan Cox had finally departed for 129 at the end of a seven-hour vigil, while Matt Milnes and Jackson Bird became the eighth and ninth players to pass fifty in the match.

Cox had batted brightly in the early stages of his innings but shrank into his shell as Kent’s batting adopted a no-risk policy. He had added just 29 runs to his overnight score in more than two hours when he popped up a dolly to short mid-on off Lawrence.

Critchley added his third wicket when Nathan Gilchrist chose to leave a ball rather theatrically and was suitably embarrassed to turn and see his off-stump pinned back.

Milnes, having reached his half-century, launched a six over Critchley’s head. But two balls later he had a rush of blood and picked out substitute Luc Benkenstein on the midwicket boundary.

Bird recorded the fastest fifty of the match having faced just 45 balls when he hit a second six back over Critchley’s head. He had had a reprieve of sorts just before when Alastair Cook’s first ball induced a thick edge that would have been meat and drink to third slip.

Essex batted for 22 overs in their second innings for the loss of Nick Browne, one of the first-innings centurions, who edged Gilchrist to a diving slip for nine.

Essex take a total of 12 points from the game, eight for the draw and four bonus points.

Day Four Reaction:

Essex skipper, Tom Westley, said: “It’s not been the normal Chelmsford wicket although we had a similar wicket this time last year against Worcestershire. It’s a bit out of our control.

“It was pretty dead and the game was killed after day two with the amount of runs scored. But to start the campaign with 12 points is positive and the way the bowlers went and kept going, and obviously three centurions, is all positive.

“I think we have got all bases covered. I think this is one of the strongest squads that I have been a part of and when Harmy (Simon Harmer) joins us, we’ve got who I think the best spinner in the world, and a world-class performer. So that is only going to make us even stronger.”