Match Report: Essex v Kent


Essex v Kent

Vitality County Championship
The Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford
Friday 12 – Monday 15 April 2024, 11am start


Team News

Essex: Dean Elgar, Feroze Khushi, Tom Westley*, Jordan Cox, Matt Critchley, Paul Walter, Michael Pepper †, Simon Harmer, Shane Snater, Aaron Beard, Jamie Porter.

Kent: Ben Compton, Tawanda Muyeye, Daniel Bell-Drummond*, Jack Leaning, Joe Denly, Harry Finch †, Jaydn Denly, Wes Agar, Nathan Gilchrist, Matt Parkinson, George Garrett.

Match Details:

Umpires: Ian Blackwell & Graham Lloyd
Match Referee: Phil Whitticase
Toss: Essex won the toss and elected to bat
Result: Match Drawn

Scorecard: View Here

Day Four Highlights

Day Four Reaction: Anthony McGrath:

Day Four Report

Jamie Porter claimed four wickets but Essex’s attempt to force victory over Kent came up just short on the final day of the sides’ Vitality County Championship clash at The Cloud County Ground.

Although they reduced the visitors to 65-5, two separate rain stoppages reduced the available overs and ensured that Essex were frustrated in their quest to complete a second successive victory.

After wind and rain delayed the start to after lunch and forced the loss of 32 overs from the day’s play, Tom Westley declared the Essex second innings closed, with Jordan Cox and Michael Pepper not out.

That left 64 overs for Essex to attempt to bowl Kent out, and their quest to do so got off to an ideal start as Tawanda Muyeye departed for a duck, caught behind by Pepper off Jamie Porter.

Ben Compton, who had dug in for an attritive 165 in the first innings, was uprooted far more quickly second time around, being pinned lbw by Porter for six.

A quick burst to remove his fellow first-innings centurion Daniel Bell-Drummond, trapped in front by Harmer for 18, and Jack Leaning, who had his furniture rearranged by Shane Snater, left Kent 37-4.

Harry Finch then became the third lbw victim of the innings, this time at the hands of Critchley, to leave the visitors seriously listing.

However, uncle and nephew Joe and Jaydn Denly battled back to halt the decline, reaching tea without further loss before shepherding their side into three figures with a sixth-wicket stand of 51.

Their partnership was broken when Porter returned to the attack to see the elder Denly flick into the hands of Feroze Khushi at short leg for 39, raising Essex hopes once more.

By this time, they were not just battling Kent, but also the weather, as just after Porter took his fourth, seeing Wes Agar caught by Snater at square leg for six, a passing shower forced the players off.

Fortunately, it cost just four overs, with the changeable spring weather then illustrated by the fact that the remainder of the game was played in bright sunshine.

Regretfully for Essex, Denly the younger, alongside Nathan Gilchrist, resisted for the remainder of the match, with the former finishing unbeaten with an innings top-score to see the visitors escape.

Coupled with their seven bonus points, the draw saw Essex take 15 points from the fixture ahead of another home clash with Lancashire from Friday.

Day Three Highlights

Day Three Reaction: Jordan Cox

Day Three Report

Jordan Cox hammered a stunning 85-ball century late on Day Three as Essex teed up a potential victory push against Kent at The Cloud County Ground.

Having hit two half-centuries in his three previous knocks for the Eagles, Cox went one better against his old side, bashing 13 boundaries to end the day unbeaten on 116 off just 89 deliveries.

Matt Critchley had earlier shone with the ball by returning figures of 5-105 as Kent, who resumed on 245-1, were bowled out for 413.

That gave Essex a lead of 137, which they then extended to a very healthy 374 by the close with some sparkling strokeplay late on, reaching stumps at 257-4.

After a Saturday that saw the Eagles go without any reward for their efforts, they found far more joy early on, taking quick middle order wickets to reduce the visitors to 312-7.

Captain Daniel Bell-Drummond was first to go, trapped lbw by Jamie Porter after adding only one to his overnight 134, just before the exact same fate befell Jack Leaning for four.

Shane Snater then uprooted Joe Denly’s off stump for 16, before Critchley took the first of his five by having Harry Finch held by a diving Tom Westley at mid-off for six.

Kent stuttered past 300 but almost immediately afterwards lost Jaydn Denly, nephew of Joe, for a duck on his first-class debut as he nicked Critchley into the hands of Feroze Khushi at short leg.

With Wes Agar then following for 10, trapped leg before for Critchley’s third, there was hope of Kent being asked to follow on, only for Nathan Gilchrist to hold Essex up with a counter-attacking 41.

He partnered still-unbeaten opener Ben Compton, who was batting in typical attritive fashion at the other end, to put on 68 for the eighth wicket and stave off the threat of Kent being put back in.

Gilchrist’s resistance was eventually ended by Critchley as he edged through to Michael Pepper behind the stumps, before Matt Parkinson fell too, caught by Simon Harmer, to confirm his five.

Harmer himself then wrapped up the innings by finally bowling Compton for 165, giving Essex a sizeable first-innings advantage.

Dean Elgar and Tom Westley then overcame the loss of Feroze Khushi for eight, caught by Jaydn Denly off Agar, by fluently taking the hosts past 50 before Elgar fell for 34.

Westley hit 22, with his and Cox’s stand for the third wicket enough to grow Essex’s lead beyond 200, before the dismissal of the former, lbw to Agar brought about a change in intent from Cox.

Against his former side, he motored through the gears to reach his half-century in just 52 balls, doing so with a monstrous strike for six high over midwicket.

Critchley looked to be similarly positive, contributing a 23-ball 25, but was bowled aiming a similar shot at Parkinson.

However, that took nothing away from the one-man show of Cox, who continued to pillage the boundary as Essex moved further and further out of sight.

He reached his century in the same way he had posted fifty, by dispatching a huge six over the leg side, as he and Pepper, who made 34, put Essex firmly in with a shout of pressing for a win tomorrow.

Day Two Reaction: Matt Critchley

Day Two Highlights

Day Two Report

Daniel Bell-Drummond hit a second successive Vitality County Championship century to continue the good start to the season on a Chelmsford pitch where only two wickets fell all day.

The Kent captain reached three-figures against Somerset at Canterbury last week, and helped his side fight back with a second ton after suffering three and a half sessions of unremitting toil in the field at Chelmsford.

However, in company with fellow centurion Ben Compton for 71 overs, Bell-Drummond led the Kent fightback against an unresponsive Kookaburra ball. Needing 381 to make Essex bat again, Kent had knocked off 245 by the end of day two for the loss of one wicket with Bell-Drummond 134 not out and Compton 100.

Essex’s 530-7 declared was anchored for 73 overs by Matt Critchley’s career-best 151 not out – beating his unbeaten 137 against Northamptonshire in his second appearance for Derbyshire as an 18-year-old back in 2015. His marathon innings encompassed 212 balls and included just five fours, but four sixes.

Shane Snater had claimed the first Kent wicket just before lunch when Twanda Muyeye shouldered arms to one that went straight on and rapped his pad. But it was the last wicket to fall.

Compton and Bell-Drummond dug in doggedly initially at around two an over until the Kent captain hit Simon Harmer straight for four and added another through midwicket in the same over. When Compton flicked Jamie Porter off his legs, Kent had added 14 runs in six balls. It marked a sea-change as the gloves came off.

Bell-Drummond reached his half-century from 99 balls with a push into the covers off Aaron Beard, and then cross-batted the same bowler through midwicket for his sixth boundary. Compton, who was dropped at slip on 20, batted just under three hours for his fifty, which took up 147 balls.

When Critchley strayed down either side of the wicket, Compton came out of his self-imposed shall and nudged the ball three times to the boundary in quick succession. Suddenly, as the evening session progressed in bright sunshine, it was the turn of the Essex attack to suffer.

Bell-Drummond’s 10th four, chopped through the covers for three off Beard, took him to a 168-ball century, and also brought up the 150-run stand for the second wicket. A six over long leg followed by a full-toss for four off Critchley kept up Bell-Drummond’s dominance. Harmer also came in for similar treatment with another maximum disappearing into the far distance.

Compton reached his century on the last ball of the day, having batted for 237 minutes with 12 fours.

Essex had batted on for 70 minutes in the morning, adding 109 runs, losing just the wicket of Harmer and claiming full batting points before the declaration put Kent’s demoralised fielders and bowlers out of their misery. Only George Garrett, who took two for 80, went at less than four runs an over.

Critchley made hay, hitting three sixes over long leg, one out of the ground, in his record knock while also sharing half-century partnerships on the day with Harmer and Snater. As the declaration approached Critchley and Snater put on 52 from 28 balls with the latter’s 26 coming off just 16 balls.

Day Two Reaction: Dean Elgar

Day One Highlights

Day One Report

Dean Elgar, on his home Essex debut, and Matt Critchley both struck sparkling centuries as the Eagles piled on the runs on Day One of the Vitality County Championship clash against Kent.

Having shown more than a glimpse of his class with an impressive 80 at Trent Bridge last week, Elgar took centre stage by going one better at home with a masterful 120 from 176 balls, featuring 18 fours.

Meanwhile, Critchley, who had also chalked up his first 50 of the season in Nottingham, followed the South African in posting triple figures off 168 balls, with his knock including four fours and one six.

He ended the day unbeaten on 103, while Jordan Cox also backed up his bright start to the season by hitting 67, and Michael Pepper contributed late on with a swift 42-ball 49.

On a bright and warm day at The Cloud County Ground, those knocks contributed towards Essex’s Day One total of 421-6, which came after Tom Westley had won the toss and eagerly opted to bat first.

Feroze Khushi was an early victim, bowled by Wes Agar in the opening over of the day, and Westley made five before following him as he edged George Garrett behind to Harry Finch.

That left the Eagles in a sticky spot at 10-2 early on, but Elgar and Cox, as they had a week earlier in Nottingham, rebuilt fluently and effectively with a stand of 159 in 34.4 overs either side of lunch.

Cox in particular scored rapidly, hitting back-to-back fours on three occasions and crunching spinner Matt Parkinson for a giant straight six to bring up his 50 in just 61 balls.

By comparison, Elgar was more watchful, but he too hit Parkinson for a boundary, this time a lofted drive for four, to post his own half-century in 76 deliveries as the duo took Essex to 123-2 at lunch.

Their stand looked set to continue to flourish into the afternoon, with Elgar cutting Parkinson away for two to tick it past 150, but it came to an abrupt end nine runs later when Cox was pinned lbw by Garrett.

However, after seeing himself in, his replacement Critchley took up the mantle with enthusiasm, striking only his tenth ball, bowled by Parkinson, for an almighty maximum.

He followed it up immediately with four more, and was then on hand to partner Elgar to see Essex beyond 200 midway through the afternoon.

Elgar’s partnership with Critchley did not quite reach the levels of his one with Cox, being worth 89 in the end, but it was enough to take him to his individual ton.

That arrived off the final two balls of the 49th over, as he hit Nathan Gilchrist for consecutive fours, one driven through the covers and the other flicked beyond mid-on.

He and Critchley saw the total beyond 250, but the South African fell in the next over, turning Parkinson into the hands of Tawanda Muyeye at short leg.

Now partnered by Paul Walter, Critchley continued to attack and posted his own fifty in 80 balls by driving Jack Leaning for four, just before Walter hit the same man for six to push the total beyond 300.

Parkinson removed Walter for 33, caught by Joe Denly at long-off, but again there was no let-up, as Pepper partnered Critchley past 400.

Their stand was worth 80 in just 72 balls, and shortly after it ended via Pepper being caught by Muyeye at third off Gilchrist following a blustery knock featuring eight boundaries, Critchley posted his century.

Having tiptoed his way through the 90s, the all-rounder finally sent the crowd into raptures with a cut single off Gilchrist in the final trappings of the day.

He and Simon Harmer then confidently saw out what remained of the day, ending with an unbroken stand of 25 for the seventh wicket.

The Eagles Have Landed: The 2024 Vitality Blast at The Cloud County Ground

Fresh from a Finals Day appearance last summer, Essex return to shortest-format action in Chelmsford from Sunday 02 June.

Demand remains exceptionally high, and there is now just one Friday night fixture with availability remaining, the visit of Glamorgan to The Cloud County Ground on 07 June.

With the Eagles aiming to go one better in 2024, there is no time to waste to snap up your seats.

Sunday 02 June, 4:00pm: Essex v Middlesex – buy here
Friday 07 June, 7:00pm: Essex v Glamorgan – buy here (LAST FEW TICKETS)
Friday 14 June, 7:00pm: Essex v Sussex Sharks – SOLD OUT
Thursday 20 June, 7:00pm: Essex v Hampshire Hawks – buy here
Friday 05 July, 7:00pm: Essex v Somerset – SOLD OUT
Thursday 11 July, 7:00pm: Essex v Kent Spitfires – buy here
Sunday 14 July, 2:30pm: Essex v Surrey – buy here