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Kent (178 & 409-5) lead Somerset (554) by 33 runs after Zak Crawley hits highest-ever Kent score in County Championship

Zak Crawley hit his highest-ever Kent score with an excellent double hundred against Somerset at Taunton in the Vitality County Championship.

But Kent lost four late wickets for 31 runs to leave themselves facing an uphill battle to rescue an unlikely draw on the final day after following on.

Zak Crawley - scored his highest-ever Kent score against Somerset at Taunton. Picture: Oyster Bay Photography
Zak Crawley - scored his highest-ever Kent score against Somerset at Taunton. Picture: Oyster Bay Photography

Resuming on 108-5, Kent lost their last five wickets in just over an hour on the third morning. Unbeaten on 32 overnight, Joe Denly moved untroubled to a 70-ball half-century before a late-order collapse.

Joey Everson was bowled for 11 aiming to drive MIgael Pretorius. Denly responded with two boundaries through the covers off Lewis Gregory’s opening over, but started to run out of partners when Beyers Swanepoel (6) played a strange shot to a wide ball from Gregory and edged to first slip.

It was 173-7 when Grant Stewart played back to Pretorius, falling lbw for a single. Somerset wicketkeeper James Rew then added to a list of stunning catches this season by diving low to his left to hold an inside edge from Denly (61) off Craig Overton.

When Gregory bowled Nathan Gilchrist for a duck, Kent had added 70 to their overnight total in 15.1 overs. With his bowlers still fresh, Somerset’s skipper had little hesitation in inviting the opposition to bat again.

Crawley, dismissed first ball by Overton the previous day, was 23 not out at lunch, with Compton unbeaten on 22 and the first innings deficit of 376 was reduced by 47.

Warm afternoon sunshine greeted the players after the interval and Crawley was not about to waste ideal batting conditions, with the pitch having flattened out. The tall opener cracked two boundaries off Jack Leach and then three in the next over from Overton.

The third took him to a half-century off 68 balls. He and Compton went on to dominate the afternoon session, barely playing a false shot as Gregory switched his bowlers and field placings to no avail. Compton went to an unblemished fifty off 67 deliveries, with nine fours.

Crawley reached three figures with a pulled four off the left-arm seam of Tom Lammonby, his 18th boundary of a majestic innings. In desperation, Gregory turned to the occasional off-spin of Matt Renshaw and the Australian obliged with his 10th ball, earning an lbw verdict against Compton (65) with a delivery slanted into his pads. Crawley and Compton had put together an opening stand of 194 in 42 overs.

Tea was taken at 197-1, with Crawley on 117. There were still 43 overs remaining in an extended day’s play and the final session saw the England player survive a couple of scares when skying shots just beyond the reach of fielders.

By the time he lofted an Andy Umeed leg-break over the long-on rope to reach 200, Crawley had faced 242 balls and extended his boundary count to 29 fours and two sixes. With Daniel Bell-Drummond looking equally unruffled moving to a 90-ball half-century, Somerset appeared totally frustrated when Leach straightened two deliveries off a good length to lift spirits markedly.

They accounted for Bell-Drummond (62) and Marcus O’Riordan (4), both lbw pushing forward. With Kent just 12 runs ahead at 388-3, Somerset took the second new ball, knowing there were just six overs were left in the day’s play.

It accounted for Crawley, caught behind off Pretorius aiming a back-foot forcing shot through the offside, and nightwatchman Gilchrist, bowled by Pretorius in the final over of the day. Crawley, who had mustered only 67 runs in seven previous Championship innings this season, fell for 238, having faced 267 balls and hit 31 fours and four sixes.

Crawley said: “To be honest, I have been hitting the ball well in the nets going into all the games, but a bit of bad luck and a couple of poor shots had seen me struggle for runs until today.

“Of course, any batsman starts to question himself during a run of low scores and wonders why he is doing this or that. But I try not to get too down on myself these days.

“I trusted that a good score was around the corner and thankfully it came. I love playing for England and always have, so of course I want to be part of things this summer. We have an environment where we are actively encouraged to enjoy our cricket, which is great.

“I believe Taunton is the best non Test-playing ground in the country and it is always a pleasure to play here.

“But it’s a mixture of emotions tonight because of the wickets we lost late in the day. I would love to have still be there at the close with the chance to help us further tomorrow.”

The late flurry of wickets left Kent 409-5, leading by just 33 runs and with their hopes of salvaging a draw hanging by a thread.

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