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Kent Cricket skipper Sam Billings reacts to three-wicket championship defeat to Essex

Kent skipper Sam Billings has described the events which unfolded in their championship game against Essex at Canterbury on Tuesday as extraordinary.

On a remarkable day when 26 wickets fell, Kent were dismissed in their second innings for just 40 – their fifth lowest ever first-class total and their worst since being dismissed for 20 by Surrey at The Oval in 1870.

It was also their lowest total at The St Lawrence ground since moving there in 1847. Their lowest score in Canterbury came three years earlier when they were dismissed for 37 by England.

Kent skipper Sam Billings managed just one run in his first Championship game of the season since returning from a shoulder injury Picture: Ady Kerry
Kent skipper Sam Billings managed just one run in his first Championship game of the season since returning from a shoulder injury Picture: Ady Kerry

Essex, needing 153 to win, collapsed to 84-6 before Adam Wheater (30 not out) and Simon Harmer (30) shared a vital seventh wicket stand of 57 to help the visitors over the line by three wickets.

Billings admitted the biggest frustration for him was losing after Kent had put themselves in a great position to win beat the Division 1 leaders.

By bowling Essex out in their first innings for 114 they had secured what looked to be a priceless 112-run lead.

Billings, who made just one in his two knocks on his championship return, explained: "It was an extraordinary day, a remarkable day of cricket.

"There was extreme weather over the three days and with the sun out, you'd think it would have been a batting day when we turned up here today, but it was doing absolutely all sorts.

"With our batting, it was just one of those days when we nicked it or got hit on the pads.

"Getting bowled out for 40, there is always more you can do regardless of the pitch and that has killed us in the game.

"We have done really well to kind of eke it out, but if you get another 20 more runs to 60 or 70 all out then that really is a tall ask for them to get.

"We were really in the game as well, they didn't find it any easier than us, they lost nine in the first session as well so by no means was it just one side.

"It was hugely frustrating after getting ourselves into a good position."

Kent's second innings lasted just 18.1 overs, and 86 minutes, with not one player reaching double figures.

Three players scored ducks with the highest partnership being the ninth wicket stand of 13 between Ollie Rayner and Matt Milnes.
Sam Cook was their chief destroyer taking 7-23 in nine overs to add to the 5-42 he took in the first innings.

Despite the loss of 102 overs to rain during the opening two days of the match, the game was completed in 189 overs.

However, James Whittaker, the ECB’s cricket liaison officer for the fixture, attached “no blame to the pitch.”

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