Having set Kent 211 to win in a minimum of 40 overs, the match went right to the wire before ending honours even as Maurice Chambers denied the visitors the boundary they needed to clinch an unlikely victory. Essex’s two innings were built around century partnerships between Nick Browne and Michael Comber, following on from another century stand in the Trophy match – has there ever been 3 consecutive hundred+ stands between two batsmen?
After a cautious opening session that saw three wickets fall, Browne (67) and Comber built the innings steadily with a 161 run 4th wicket stand, before Comber fell 3 short of his century. Sam Arthurton (55*) made sure a declaration was possible, leaving Kent 5 overs to negotiate at the end of the day, which they managed successfully.
The early dismissal of both openers, a wicket apiece for Chambers and Adam Soilleux, brought Ben Harmison and Alex Blake together and they put on a record 3rd wicket partnership for Kent v Essex of 204 in 56 overs. Blake fell on the verge of the tea interval for 92, but Harmison continued to 124 before becoming Jon Carpenter’s 2nd wicket. For a while it looked as though Kent would bat on to build a substantial lead, but two wickets in 3 balls for Soilleux (3-23) prompted a declaration at 309-6.
With 16 overs to bat on day 2, Essex lost Billy Godleman before the close, and nightwatchman Carpenter before the deficit had been cleared. Jaik Mickleburgh soon followed leaving Essex at 37-3, but Ben Foakes (43) and Browne added 70 for the 4th wicket. When Foakes fell, Browne (80*) was joined by Comber (71*) to add an unbroken 135 to allow Essex to set up a run chase.
Requiring 5-an-over on a pitch where 3 had been difficult, Daniel Bell-Drummond (26) and Chris Piesley put on 50 for the first wicket before Essex took 2 wickets in 4 balls. Piesley (73) anchored the innings, allowing Alex Blake (35 from 24 balls) and Michael Johnson (57 from 58) to attack, and with 9 balls remaining, Kent only required 12. Tom Craddock (3-81) made a crucial breakthrough, dismissing Johnson, then Chambers found Dan Blacktopp’s glove to leave the visitors needing 6 from 3 balls – a task beyond them.