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Kent facing Championship defeat
Kent facing Championship defeat

Kent were left praying for rain after day three of their LV=Insurance match with Essex at Canterbury, having been reduced to 137 for eight in their second innings, a deficit of 272. 

Sam Cook took six for 33 in Kent’s second innings and has match figures of nine for 60, while Adam Rossington has seven catches so far, but Essex remain two wickets shy of victory, despite taking an extra half hour after the scheduled close of 6.33pm. 

Kent’s top scorer, Jordan Cox, was not out on 53 at stumps, partnered by Matt Milnes who’s unbeaten on 12, but Kent’s only realistic hope of avoiding defeat is if the weather intervenes on day four. 

Earlier Ben Allison took four for 40 as Kent were dismissed for 164 in their first innings, 409 behind the 573 Essex made after they were put in on day one.  

Kent were 74 for four when play began after a 10-minute rain delay and after some early resistance they rapidly faded. 

Jack Leaning batted for 41 minutes with Cox, before Cook had him caught by a tumbling Feroze Khushi at square leg, and from then on no partnership lasted for more than five overs.  

Billings batted despite a groin injury, with Ben Compton acting as his runner, but he was visibly struggling and lasted just nine balls before he nicked Allison to Rossington. 

Allison then removed Grant Stewart, who edged the seventh ball he faced behind for two and Harry Podmore, who made 13 before he became Rossington’s fifth victim of the innings. 

Allison then clipped the top of Cox’s off stump, bowling him for 34, before the rain returned, with Kent 145 for nine, ushering in an early lunch. 

When play resumed Quinn tried to hit Shane Snater out of the ground and was bowled for seven, leaving Essex with a mammoth first innings lead.  

To the surprise of precisely no one in the Spitfire Ground they enforced the follow on, claiming an early victim when Robinson edged Cook behind for 15, before a second rain delay wiped out 19 overs. 

Kent’s best hope of salvaging a draw lay in batting out the day and hoping a grim weather forecast for day four would prove accurate, but when play resumed Cook hadn’t even completed his over before he’d removed Daniel Bell-Drummond for a second ball duck, again caught behind. 

In Cook’s next over he took wickets with successive deliveries, first getting Compton caught at second slip by Matt Critchley for seven, then getting Leaning caught for a golden duck by the same fielder. 

Cook claimed his fifth wicket of the innings when Denly tried to pull him and instead got a top edge that floated to Nick Browne at third slip. Stewart tried to drive Cook and was caught by Browne at mid off for six. 

Podmore lingered for 46 balls for 10 before he was bowled by Jamie Porter and Essex looked like wrapping up the win inside three days when Billings chipped the same bowler to Tom Westley, for his first ever pair, but Cox pulled Snater for four to pass 50 shortly before the scheduled close and although the extra half hour was taken, the players went off for bad light at 6.59 pm. 

Essex’s Sam Cook said: “When the luck’s going your way you’ve just got to ride it and enjoy it and top off what’s been a good week. 

“It’s a ground I enjoy bowling at, (he took 7-23 here in 2019) it’s similar to Lord’s in there’s obviously a big slope and I’ve enjoyed bowling and trying to use that slope, particularly when it’s not swinging or not doing much in the air. It gives you something to work with.  

“2019 was a special win that set us on the way to winning the title, so it’s becoming a nice ground that I enjoy bowling at. There was still a bit of swing towards the end, but when that ball gets a bit soft it doesn’t take the edge quite as well and those catches don’t carry. There’s still plenty there and we’re hopeful that in the morning we can wrap the game up if we keep putting the ball in the right area and keep challenging both edges of the bat. 

“It’d be nice to freshen up tonight and come back hard in the morning. We haven’t looked too far ahead (at the forecast)  and there’s a bit about in the morning, but the afternoon looks reasonably clear so we’ll just have to turn up and be ready and go out there when it clears.” 

Kent’s Jordan Cox said: “We’re disappointed, obviously in how we batted. 160 something’s not good enough but we knew the wicket had something in it. Unfortunately our bowlers didn’t hit the right spots and there’s did and they bowled very well to be fair to them. They got 500 and it seems a long way off. There’s a bit of fatigue for the first couple of wickets and then you’re into the middle order straight away so it’s pretty disappointing, but we’ll try to bounce back. 

“We had to try and get through tonight with me and Milnesy and we managed to do so, so hopefully tomorrow it rains a bit as we need it to! Milnesy’s unfortunately pretty much done for the year with a stress fracture. He’s struggling to move at the minute but obviously he’s taken a few pills and is getting on with it. It was a case of him taking one end and me taking the other, which he thought was more comfortable to face. We decided that with about 15 overs left, so I stayed down one end for seven overs and they ended up calling it for light, which was handy. 

“If the rain doesn’t come we’ll try and do our best to survive as long as we can, but we won’t go down without a fight, for sure.”