Published: 19:00, 20 June 2021
| Updated: 19:18, 20 June 2021
Kent Spitfires scored a record-breaking T20 Blast score of 236-3 as they remained top of the South Group on Sunday.
Spitfires' total against Essex Eagles at Canterbury beat their previous bests of 231-7 against Surrey in 2015 and 231-5 against Somerset in 2018.
Openers Zak Crawley and Daniel Bell-Drummond made Essex rue their decision to bowl first after winning the toss, although they should have removed Crawley when Adam Wheater missed a stumping with the England man yet to score.
The Spitfires duo quickly stepped on the gas, increasing the tally to 71-0 by the end of the six-over powerplay. By the time Crawley went for 69 from 39 balls, they had put on 145 in less than 12 overs.
Bell-Drummond smashed 88 from 44 balls, including six sixes, while Crawley hit cleared the rope four times as he took advantage of another missed opportunity when he was dropped on 34.
Crawley went leg before to Paul Walter as he played across a straight one, Bell-Drummond was caught by Wheater off Sam Cook and Joe Denly fell for eight, slashing at Jack Plom.
Jack Leaning continued his stunning T20 form, hitting 24 - including three sixes - off the first five balls of the penultimate over by Jimmy Neesham - who couldn't get his line right with the Kent batsman taking his guard outside off stump.
Alex Blake ended 16 not out from eight balls and Leaning 42 from 17 balls as the duo put 57 in just 3.2 overs.
Essex initially kept up with the run rate, but lost wickets too frequently to seriously threaten. Denly bowled Will Buttleman for eight with the fourth ball of the innings and Dan Lawrence then chopped Grant Stewart to Qais Ahmad for 16.
Michael Pepper holed out to Darren Stevens (1-36 in four overs) and was caught by Blake for seven, before Leaning produced a brilliant catch off his own bowling to remove Neesham for one, holding a violently-struck drive. Cox stumped Ryan ten Doeschate off Leaning for one and Leaning then bowled Walter for eight to finish with 3-15 in two overs.
Ahmad dismissed Wheater with his first ball, caught by Blake at long-on and Simon Harmer went down swinging with 31 before he was caught by Leaning on the cow corner boundary, off Fred Klaassen.
Plom was caught off Matt Milnes, who secured an emphatic victory for Kent when Blake sprinted in from the long-on boundary to catch Sam Cook for 18, with four balls remaining.
Bell-Drummond said: "The umpires made a great decision to get the game on.
"It was really wet out there and I think in most normal circumstances, without a crowd, we wouldn’t have been playing.
"We were a bit confused about how to start and everyone was finding their feet, but Zak got going and I followed suit.
"I thought the boundaries were really small towards the Old Dover Road and I wanted to bowl first because we thought it would seam about. The groundsman said part of the wicket was a tiny bit wet, but it clearly didn’t matter.
"Four overs in Zak said to me 'I think this is really flat, I think I’ve been playing this wrong', which he wasn’t, but we all saw a green, wettish wicket, with gloomy conditions. Luckily we were able to make use of that last few overs in the powerplay and carry on.”
Kent are next in action on Tuesday evening when they travel to Gloucestershire.