Published: 17:00, 04 August 2020
| Updated: 18:00, 04 August 2020
Kent were beaten by Essex in a dramatic finish at the County Ground, Chelmsford.
Reigning County Champions Essex were set a target of 202 for victory on day four of the Bob Willis Trophy match but Kent made them battle for the honours.
The visitors took the match into the final session after Ivan Thomas - who missed the whole of the 2019 season through injury after needing surgery to reconstruct his anterior cruciate ligament - took four wickets to set up a grandstand finish. Essex required 15 runs after tea and they got home thanks to an unbroken 31-run ninth-wicket stand between Adam Wheater (26) and Sam Cook (15).
Heino Kuhn had starred on day one for Kent after scoring his maiden first-class century for the county, the South African hitting 140. It was the first century by any player in the newly formed competition.
Kent, playing in the south group, hadn’t got off to a good start in their first game back.
Reduced to 23-3 after six overs, Kuhn and Ollie Robinson (78) - with his sixth first-class half-century - shared a 150-run partnership to swing the momentum back their way.
Darren Stevens added 36 and Grant Stewart 37 as Kent passed 300. They began the second day on 344-6 but Kuhn was unable to add to his 140 total and was dismissed to just the second ball, after Essex had taken the second new ball overnight.
Kent added 43 more runs following Kuhn’s dismissal to post a total of 387.
In reply, Alastair Cook was trapped LBW to Matt Milnes in the ninth over but Nick Browne and Varun Chopra put on 79 for the third wicket.
Marcus O’Riordan claimed his maiden two first-class wickets, the off-spinner adding a third on day three, as Essex were eventually bowled out for 298.
Kent slumped to 36-3 in their second innings. Neither Robinson (14) or Kuhn (17) were able to replicate the batting heroics from day one. The visitors were all out for 112 and Essex went into the final day’s play needing 202 for victory.
They looked well on course until Ivan Thomas was brought into bowl.
With Essex cruising, Thomas got rid of Cook (66) and debutant Feroze Khushi (45), who had shared a stand of 86, before then removing Ryan ten Doeschate (5) and Simon Harmer (0) in successive balls. The home side had been reduced to 171-8 in a flash.
Essex steadied themselves, however, and they went into tea needing 15 more runs while Kent required two wickets for victory. Thomas had given the visitors a glimmer of hope but Wheater and Cook guided the home side to a two-wicket victory.
Kent are next in action in the competition against Sussex at Canterbury on Saturday, behind closed doors.