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Australian fast bowler Wes Agar comes off injured as Essex make 287-4 on first day of County Championship match against Kent at Canterbury

An injury-hit Kent bowling attack was dealt another big blow on day one of their Vitality County Championship Division 1 derby with Essex at Canterbury on Friday.

Australian overseas fast bowler Wes Agar, 27, injured his shoulder as Essex recovered from an early-evening wobble to reach 287-4 at stumps.

Wes Agar - came off injured on the first day of Kent’s County Championship match against Essex at Canterbury on Friday. Picture: Keith Gillard
Wes Agar - came off injured on the first day of Kent’s County Championship match against Essex at Canterbury on Friday. Picture: Keith Gillard

Opening batsmen Dean Elgar and Nick Browne scored 77 and 65 respectively, putting on 146 for the first wicket for Essex.

Joey Evison took 2-38 for a Kent attack weakened by injuries - Matt Quinn (back), Michael Cohen (stress fracture), George Garrett (groin) and Nathan Gilchrist (back) also injured - but after reducing Essex to 224-4, they were unable to shift either Jordan Cox or Michael Pepper. They were unbeaten on 51 and 35 at the close.

“It’s fairly even,” said Evison.

“Obviously, it’s a slow wicket and it’ll be quite nice to bat on but it felt, in the middle session, we held the rate really well and then we got a couple of rewards.

“That helped us keep control of the rate and, when we weren’t taking wickets, we weren’t going for many runs.

“It’s there and all still to play for tomorrow. If we get a couple of early wickets, who knows what could happen?”

When Essex won the toss and chose to bat, a collective groan was uttered by the Spitfire Ground die-hards, who came in hope rather than expectation.

A healthy first-day crowd of 1,200 watched a one-sided first session unfold as an under-cooked attack toiled.

Browne was on nought when he drove at Grant Stewart (0-60) and fellow all-rounder Evison couldn't cling on to a tough chance at mid-on, but that was about as close as Kent came during a sterile opening session.

Joey Evison - took 2-38 for Kent. Picture: Keith Gillard
Joey Evison - took 2-38 for Kent. Picture: Keith Gillard

The hosts' morning was summed up when Elgar reached 60 after a misfield from Zak Crawley. He sprinted 50 yards and clawed the ball back from the boundary, only for it to ricochet off his trailing arm and over the rope for four.

Browne reached 50 with two off Evison but Matt Parkinson (1-81) finally broke through in the 46th over when Elgar charged down the wicket and was stumped by Harry Finch.

Evison produced a beauty that swung back in and bowled Browne middle-stump, which meant it was time for Margate-born Cox to walk out at Canterbury for the first time since his move last year.

On the ball which dismissed Browne, Evison noted: “I started swinging it in that spell, really.

“Then, that one just came out a bit nicer.

“It was really full, which kind of did him.”

Cox was given diplomatic applause, took 10 balls to get off the mark and then hit Parkinson for six.

At that point, Cox looked like he was going to "go hard or go home" - but he reined himself in the face of some miserly Kent bowling and it was 185-2 at tea.

Tom Westley flashed at Arafat Bhuiyan (1-38) and was caught at first slip by Crawley for 21, but Stewart couldn't hold on to a violent return catch offered by Cox when he was on 15.

Matt Critchley survived a strong lbw shout from Evison, only to be trapped in front by the same bowler in his next over for 13. But Kent opted not to take the new ball due to Agar's ongoing absence.

Cox continued to play watchfully while Pepper injected aggression to tilt the contest back in Essex's favour.

They made an unbroken stand of 63 during the day's final hour and Cox brought up his half-century with successive fours off Parkinson in the last over.

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