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Kent Cricket head coach Matt Walker admits defeat in Championship promotion push

By Alex Hoad

Coach Matt Walker has admitted defeat in Kent's quest for Championship promotion after their latest frustrating four-day draw.

The visitors were forced to settle for their seventh draw in 12 games this season against Gloucestershire at Bristol on Friday evening after failing to agree terms on a final-day run chase to set up a result.

With only two games remaining, can no longer overhaul leaders Worcestershire and are 43 points adrift of second-placed Nottinghamshire in the final promotion spot in Division 2.

Matt Walker. Picture: Andy Jones
Matt Walker. Picture: Andy Jones

Walker said; "I think the most overwhelming feeling at the moment is that our season is over.

"We are not going to get promoted and that was what we set out to achieve at the start of the season."

Kent opted to bowl on the opening morning but were made to rue the decision as Chris Dent (59) and Cameron Bancroft piled on the runs.

The openers put on 141 and it was 225-3 before wily Darren Stevens picked up 3-50 to pass 50 Championship wickets for the season.

Another monster tail-end stand of 111 for the final wicket hauled the hosts to 385 all-out, with last-man Matt Taylor making 36 with the rest going to Bancroft who carried his bat for a superb unbeaten 206 in a near nine-hour effort.

Adam Milne picked up 3-90 while Mitch Claydon and Joe Denly collected two wickets apiece.

In-form Sam Northeast again impressed in the reply, as he and Denly both passed 1,000 Championship runs for the season.

Daniel Bell-Drummond (58), Denly (57) and 66 from England hopeful Northeast kept Kent in contention while a breezy 47 from Sam Billings and an unbeaten 65 from Stevens at better than a run a ball managed to drag Kent into a one-run lead in another rain-hit September game.

The teams discussed the possibility of setting up a run-chase for Kent to try and keep themselves in contention for promotion however could not settle on an outcome and Bancroft added another 72 and Dent 41 as Gloucestershire built a big lead.

Despite Stevens returning his seventh fivefer of the summer with 5-77 to give brief hope of an unlikely result, a gutsy late 78 not out on the final day from keeper Gareth Roderick, playing with a broken finger, ensured the game petered out, with the hosts eventually declaring in the final session on 294-9 before the sides shook hands on Kent's seventh draw of the season.

They remain winless in red-ball cricket since the win over Sussex at Tunbridge Wells in May and sit fourth, 14 points adrift of Northants who also seem set to miss out on promotion.

Walker added: "I cannot fault our effort. I thought we were outstanding and we kept going, all day.

"But that is probably the story of our season - it was never quite enough.

"To win a division or win promotion you have to be good from start to finish and we have probably just fallen short on too many occasions."

Kent are back in action at Derbyshire in their penultimate match from Tuesday (10.30am).

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