Blast From The Past: Essex v Kent


This is the fourth part of a series, with a look back at a memorable game from the past against each of Essex’s 2024 home Vitality Blast opponents. This next instalment looks back to a dramatic win over arch-rivals Kent in 2012.
Essex (158-6) beat Kent (155 all out) by three runs
Chelmsford County Ground, 20 June 2012
Scorecard: View Here
Essex are no strangers to nail-biting finishes to T20 matches, with their finest Vitality Blast moment of winning the trophy in 2019 coming via a last-ball finish.

However, back in 2012, when the competition was known as the Friends Life T20, the Chelmsford faithful were treated to one of the most dramatic conclusions of all.

Just three runs ultimately separated the Eagles and Kent in the summer’s first Battle of the Bridge, but that, along with Greg Smith’s haul of 5/17 and James Foster’s 27-ball 51, barely told half the story.

The clash had begun innocuously enough, with Rob Key winning the toss and opting to insert the hosts, who progressed to a sedate 59-1 at the halfway point of their innings.

James Franklin was responsible for 39 of that total, with Napier on 18 at the other end, but both fell in the very next over, as the former was castled by Adam Ball before Darren Stevens ran out the latter.

That brought Foster to the crease, and although Ryan ten Doeschate became Ball’s second victim shortly afterwards, the captain and Smith negotiated a further 4.4 overs to see Essex onto 113-4.

The rate felt a little placid, especially with only 18 balls remaining, but it was at that point Foster took control, hoisting Matt Coles for the first two sixes of the innings as part of an 18th over that went for 15.

Coles, who would go on to cross the Dartford Bridge in 2018 and spend two seasons with Essex, did remove Smith, but the pair of maximums that bookended that over signalled Foster’s change in intent.

He returned to bowl the last over after Foster had moved on to 38 in Azhar Mahmood’s penultimate set of six, but Smith’s replacement Adam Wheater wasted no time in getting in on the act.

Wheater cracked a six from the second ball before handing the strike back to Foster, and the skipper obliged with another maximum, meaning the first four balls had gone for 14.

A shaken Coles replied with a wide and a no ball in succession, with the latter delivery also sent flying over the rope by Foster in an act that brought up his fifty from just 26 balls and cost eight runs in total.

The last laugh did go to the bowler as Foster’s furniture was rearranged, but the damage was done, with the final over going for 24 and those ultimately priceless runs on the board as part of Essex’s total.

In response, opening pair Key and Sam Billings made a watchful start, before David Masters’ double-strike, bowling Key and trapping Mahmood lbw, brought the contest into the balance.

That left Kent 23-2, though Billings and Stevens rebuilt with quiet efficiency, adding 41 before the latter was caught by Reece Topley off ten Doeschate for 21 just after the halfway point.

Billings sought revenge and cracked sixes in each of the next two overs, with the second bringing up his fifty in 46 balls, as he and Brendan Nash upped the rate and saw the Spitfires to 118-3 after 16 overs.

At that point, their fourth-wicket partnership was worth 54 and Kent required just 41 more from the remaining 24 balls, but it was then that the chaos, orchestrated by Smith, truly began.

Billings was snaffled by Mark Pettini to end his innings on 59 before Nash nicked behind for 26, with Geraint Jones on his way too, bowled for one, before the over was out as the chase hit the skids.

Sam Northeast did his best to restore some order, hitting Franklin for two sixes in a blustery cameo of 14 from seven balls, but he too fell to Smith in the penultimate over, caught by Michael Comber.

A quite remarkable five-for was complete in the space of just 11 deliveries when Smith saw Topley catch Coles for six, with Kent’s near-total collapse having seen them fall to 139-8 with one over to go.

The Spitfires were, however, about to be thrown a lifeline, as the hosts’ over-rate was deemed too slow in a turn of events that added an invaluable six runs to their total.

A further eight then came off the bat in the first three balls of Napier’s final over, lowering the requirement to just five off three before James Tredwell was run out at the bowler’s end.

Two balls, five runs, and one wicket were all that split the rivals at that point, before a Ball single left last man Mark Davies needing to find the boundary to give Kent victory.

Napier, however, always was the man for the big occasion, and the cheers that erupted when he uprooted one of Davies’ stumps signified how astonishing the fightback had been.

Kent’s collapse had seen them lose 7/37, and the win proved crucial in the qualification battle that year, as Essex snuck over the line into the quarter-finals, two points ahead of their rivals.

Get priority access to Vitality Blast tickets

The Eagles will host seven explosive T20 encounters at The Cloud County Ground this summer, and with over 15,000 tickets already sold, there’s no time to waste to grab the best seats.

You can now secure early access to purchase your tickets ahead of this week’s general sale by subscribing to our ‘Over & Out!’ e-newsletter.

Just click below to sign up and receive your instant priority access before general sale begins on Tuesday 20 February: