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Kent (413 & 164-7) draw with Essex (530-7dec & 257-4dec) in County Championship Division 1 at Chelmsford

Teenager Jaydn Denly came to Kent’s rescue as they left Essex with a draw on the final day of their County Championship clash on Monday.

The match was heading for a grandstand finish as far as the hosts were concerned as Kent, needing a token 375 for victory, lost seven wickets in less than two sessions.

Joe Denly - made 39 for Kent in their second innings at Essex and shared a valuable 51-run stand with nephew Jaydn Denly. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Joe Denly - made 39 for Kent in their second innings at Essex and shared a valuable 51-run stand with nephew Jaydn Denly. Picture: Barry Goodwin

They returned for a tense final 43 minutes but Denly survived 128 balls to finish 41 not out.

Gusty April showers meant a delayed start on the last day. No play was possible before lunch and that meant Kent had 64 overs to negotiate in their second innings to escape with a draw.

Play started at 1.40pm with a strong wind blowing across the ground. Essex declared their second innings overnight and it took less than 15 minutes for their first breakthrough to arrive with ball in hand. Tawanda Muyeye departed for a 12-ball duck, edging Jamie Porter behind to Michael Pepper, who took a good low catch.

After five successive maidens and just five extras on Kent’s total, Daniel Bell-Drummond finally broke the stranglehold with a boundary through the leg side.

Having taken 13 balls to get off the mark, Ben Compton hit a back-foot four but departed next ball, trapped in front by Porter, for six to leave Kent 19-2.

Jack Leaning was then dropped at second slip by Simon Harmer - a one-handed attempt low to his left - off the very next ball. Porter’s opening spell was 2-7 in six overs.

Kent were staring defeat in the face after losing two wickets in four balls. Bell-Drummond looked comfortable on his way to 18 before being trapped in front by Harmer and then Shane Snater bowled Leaning for eight to leave Kent 37-4.

Having ripped through the Kent order on day three, Matt Critchley got in on the act to remove Harry Finch leg before for 14.

That saw Jaydn Denly join uncle Joe at the crease and the former avoided a pair on his Championship debut when he nudged Harmer behind square for a single.

Joe Denly hit the penultimate ball before tea straight down the pitch off Harmer for six, the visitors taking their score to 79-5 with another 32 overs still to negotiate.

The teenager adopted a positive approach, riding his luck early on and surviving a difficult chance to Pepper stood up down the leg side when on 18. Thereafter, his temperament belied his years.

The family duo put on the biggest partnership of the innings and the Kent hundred came up with a minimum of 26 overs still to bowl in the day.

Joe Denly resisted to make 39 before falling to a catch close in on the leg side by Feroze Khushi, the Kent batsman falling to the first ball of Porter’s return to the attack. The 38-year-old had faced spin at both ends for the previous 40 minutes since tea.

His departure left Kent 116-6 with 20 overs at least left. Although skies were darkening above a windy Chelmsford and the floodlights were turned on, there were still periods of sunshine.

Wes Agar then clipped Porter (4-17 in 10 overs) straight to mid-wicket to depart for six, Kent were 130-7 and the final hour was still yet to begin.

The lights then started to dominate with dark clouds above and, when the forecasted shower arrived, just after the final hour started, the players were taken off the field. There was quite the scene as Jaydn Denly and Nathan Gilchrist sprinted to the pavilion and many of the Essex team went in the opposite direction to help their ground-staff cover the wicket.

The players were off the field for 15 minutes, leaving Kent with 43 minutes to survive on their return. It was again spin at both ends, the Kent duo successfully batting without alarm until Porter returned to the attack for one over that failed to bring a breakthrough. The game finished in sunshine with Denly the key for Kent.

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