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Kent (394 & 101) beaten by Essex (591-7dec) by an innings and 96 runs in County Championship Division 1 at Canterbury

Kent suffered an innings defeat to rivals Essex in County Championship Division 1 in Canterbury on Bank Holiday Monday.

Realistically needing to bat out the last day at The Spitfire Ground to salvage a draw, the relegation-threatened team slipped to a mere 101 all out inside 58 second-innings overs - still 96 runs short of Essex’s first-innings total of 591-7 declared.

Matt Parkinson - was the final man to go for 10, as Kent were routed at home to Essex by an innings and 96 runs on Monday. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Matt Parkinson - was the final man to go for 10, as Kent were routed at home to Essex by an innings and 96 runs on Monday. Picture: Barry Goodwin

“We’re very disappointed,” said Kent captain Daniel Bell-Drummond. “We have been second-best for the whole game, really, from day one.

“It’s very frustrating. We didn’t do very well, especially on this last day, but probably the pressure of the last month or so - being second-best in a lot of games - showed today.

“There were a few tired shots and scoreboard pressure just got the better of us.

“It’s a shame.

“We batted well in the first innings to an extent so, to fall in a heap like that, that was disappointing but, in a way, not surprising, considering the pressure we have been under for quite a while.

“They bowled well, as well. But we shouldn’t have been bowled out for 101.”

Unsurprisingly, the visitors enforced the follow-on and enjoyed a dream start to the final day.

England’s Zak Crawley was trapped for one by Shane Snater (3-15) in just the second over.

Essex spinner Simon Harmer (4-32) was introduced shortly before the end of the opening hour and had fellow Kent opening batsman Ben Compton lbw for 12 to leave them 29-2 - still 168 runs behind.

The weather forecast appeared to show the possible threat of rain - something the home contingent looked like they would sorely need - as Marcus O’Riordan was the next to go. He was caught in close by Nick Browne off Harmer’s bowling.

Things went from bad to worse for Kent the very next over when Bell-Drummond was trapped lbw by Matt Critchley (2-23) for 20 to leave the hosts 45-4 in the 20th over.

Wicketkeeper Harry Finch was the next to go before lunch. He questionably attempted to reverse-sweep Harmer and was lbw for four, albeit replays appeared to show he was outside the line of his off-stump. That left Kent 64-5 at lunch.

Shortly before the start of the afternoon session, rain arrived to delay the resumption, albeit just a couple of overs were lost.

Joe Denly and Joey Evison then dug in for the best of an hour before the latter was dismissed for 16 off 79 balls, lbw to Snater, and the same bowler produced a peach to bowl Grant Stewart for one. That wicket was a landmark scalp for Snater - his 100th in first-class cricket for Essex.

As he continued to race in, Snater was given a warning for running onto the pitch by one of the umpires.

The hosts had only just moved beyond the 100-run mark in the second innings when Denly chipped Harmer to Aaron Beard at mid-off for 23.

With Kent deciding against risking Australian overseas fast bowler Wes Agar due to his shoulder injury he had suffered earlier in the match, the visitors wrapped up their victory just before 3.20pm when they had Parkinson trapped in front by Critchley for 10.

Essex took 21 points from the game in their title push, Kent collecting three and firmly in a fight against the drop at the end of the first round of 2024 red-ball fixtures.

Kent head coach Matt Walker said: “I think we all went in very optimistic about today and certainly found ourselves in a position that we have got used to in the last few weeks, going into the last day, looking to save the game.

“Today was disappointing, of course, being rolled relatively straight-forwardly by Essex doesn’t look great.

“But today isn’t where we lost the game - that’s the truth of it, really. The pressure we had been put under in the first three days sort of leads to the pressure valve exploding.

“The slightly disappointing thing is we have actually scrapped quite hard in these situations and found our way out of it on a number of occasions. We nearly did at Somerset last week.

“But when you keep finding yourself in these positions, in the end, something has to give. It did today.

“I feel for the batters a little bit. There’s no lack of effort and desire - we were just outplayed - and that’s the simple truth of it.

“Essex are a very good side. They know how to win games in these situations and they have really outplayed us from the start of the game until the end.

“We were good with the ball on day one. Day two, that’s where the game really shifted because we didn’t get it right.

“I thought we showed a lot of spirit and courage, first innings, but obviously, we were still well behind.

“Today, there was the pretty simple equation of batting for most of the day and we weren’t able to do it.

“Of course, everyone will look at how we rolled over today.

“But when you keep finding yourself in these positions, in the end, you’re going to come a cropper at times.”

Kent will now prepare to begin their T20 Blast campaign against Middlesex at Essex’s Chelmsford ground on Friday.

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