Kent get much needed practice
Kent get much needed practice

Kent’s warm up game against Essex finished as a draw on Tuesday ahead of the start of the Bob Willis Trophy on Saturday.

Both sides can take plenty from a game designed to get minutes into the legs of the bowlers and allow batsmen time at the crease – Essex batted all day on day two whilst Kent bowled 86 overs, after 77.1 overs worth of batting for Kent for 258 runs on day one.

Dan Lawrence and Ryan ten Doeschate were the stars for the visitors as they both hit half centuries before retiring not out. Harry Podmore and Matt Milnes both took two wickets for Kent, with Darren Stevens, Tim Groenewald and Marcus O’Riordan also claiming scalps.

After an unbeaten Ollie Robinson century helped Kent reach 258 all out on day one, it was Essex’s turn to bat in much warmer conditions, and Sir Alastair Cook and Nick Browne made their ways out to the middle in the Canterbury sun.

After cutting Harry Podmore for four off the first delivery of the day, Nick Browne was out second ball. Podmore came back well and forced an outside edge from Browne, which youngster Marcus O’Riordan caught well at second slip.

It was the perfect start for Kent and Essex captain Tom Westley made his way out to the middle, though he could only look on as Podmore took the wicket of Alastair Cook for a duck. Cook, trying to turn the ball into the leg side, could only loop it up into the air and the Kent seamer produced a fine catch off his own bowling to dismiss the former England captain. Kent were flying, and Essex were two down at the end of the first over.

Dan Lawrence, who has been in and around the England setup, found himself in the middle in the second over and had to try and dig in with Westley as Kent had a couple of LBW appeals turned down.

Though those decisions were rejected, Stevens had his man at the end of the fourth over, taking Westley LBW for 14 to leave Essex 23/3. Varun Chopra was out to bat much earlier than he would have wanted to be, and it was almost four when Lawrence left a straight one from Podmore. The appeals were loud, but it was a no ball and Lawrence survived.

Essex eventually began to get into their work and Chopra hit back to back boundaries off Stevens in the 10th over before Lawrence flicked another through mid-wicket to take Essex to 50.

Grant Stewart replaced Podmore at the Nackington Road End and saw his first two balls go for four and six respectively. He recovered well, though, as Milnes came on for Stevens at the Pavillion End.

The 50 partnership wasn’t too far away for Essex. Chopra and Lawrence batted well to rebuild despite three consecutive Milnes maidens, but the partnership was broken six short of 100 when Groenewald had Chopra caught by Jack Leaning at gully for 30.

Ryan ten Doeschate joined Lawrence in the middle and the two went to lunch on 0 and 63 respectively – Lawrence reaching his 50 with a cut from 62 balls – to leave Essex 118/4 at the interval.

Kent would have been happy with their morning. The partnership between Lawrence and Chopra was frustrating, but three wickets and overs for Podmore, Stevens, Stewart, Milnes, Thomas – who didn’t bowl all of last season because of injury – and Groenewald ensured a positive session for the hosts.

Dan Lawrence retired on 63 over lunch and wicketkeeper Adam Wheater joined ten Doeschate at the crease. The two soon put on a 50 partnership with the pitch offering little assistance for the bowlers, but Wheater was run out on 28 when trying to take a quick single. Qadri recovered the ball from his own balling, and Robinson took off the bails with Wheater halfway down the pitch as Essex lost their fifth wicket.

Feroze Khushi made his way out and 200 was soon on the board for Essex with Ryan ten Doeschate going nicely. The batsman brought up his 50 from 83 balls with a six down the ground – a knock which also included seven fours.

After one over of off spin from Jack Leaning, which ten Doeschate reverse swept his way through, Essex were 227/5 going into tea with ten Doeschate unbeaten on 58 and Khushi not out on 13.

ten Doeschate retired over lunch and, with players allowed to bat twice in this game, Nick Browne went back out to the middle after facing just two balls earlier on in the day.

Browne’s stay didn’t last long yet again. He edged Matt Milnes behind to Robinson for a three-ball duck, meaning he was dismissed twice in the game from five balls. Alastair Cook then went out to bat again.

Khushi was dismissed at the end of the 63rd over, clean bowled by Milnes for 15, which left Essex 231/7. Tom Westley made his way back out and tried to bat time with Cook, but was bowled himself by O’Riordan, who was in his first spell of the day, for four. Cook though impressed this time round, scoring 52 not out off 79 balls – his 50 coming in the 83rd over from 73 balls, featuring five fours.

Stumps were called 10 minutes before six and Essex ended the day on 314/8. Dan Lawrence and Ryan ten Doeschate the stars of the Essex innings, scoring 63 not out and 58 not out respectively, whilst Podmore, Stevens, Milnes, Groenewald and O’Riordan were all in the wickets for Kent. The game, of course, ended as a draw.

A productive day and a productive game. Both teams’ batsmen spent time at the crease and registered some positive scores, whilst bowlers got minutes and miles into their legs, as well as a few wickets.

The two teams will now face off in the first round of the Bob Willis Trophy fixtures in Essex at Chelmsford, with day one on Saturday.