Kent held to draw at Canterbury
Kent held to draw at Canterbury

Two lengthy rain showers ensured Kent’s entertaining Specsavers County Championship clash with Leicestershire ended in a draw when a tea-time deluge put paid the fourth day’s play.

Having secured a modest first-innings lead of 17, Leicestershire wobbled badly when batting second time around and had limped to 135 for six and a lead of 152 when the players left a floodlight field of play in light drizzle for the tea interval.

The rain intensified thereafter, leaving umpires Martin Saggers and Russell Warren with no choice but to abandon the match as a draw with Kent banking 11 points to Leicestershire’s 12.

The result means the Foxes will go into a 12th game looking for their first win of the Division 2 campaign, moreover, a fifth draw in 10 starts for Kent, will put a severe dent in their hopes of winning promotion to the top tier.

Batting for a second time with a modest first-innings lead of 17, Leicestershire lost both openers in the space of seven overs. Harry Dearden shouldered arms to a Darren Stevens in-swinger to depart lbw then Michael Carberry’s unhappy return to Canterbury continued when he was snared full in front by a shooting off-cutter from Adam Milne.

Foxes’ skipper Mark Cosgrove appeared to treat his innings like a T20 Blast net session, spanking 34 off 19 balls – including 24 from five successive deliveries from Matt Coles – before top-edging an attempted paddle off Coles to the keeper.

Then, on the cusp of the lunch break, Ned Eckersley went back and across his stumps in aiming to leg to also go leg before, this time to Mitch Claydon.

Rain during the interval led to the loss of an hour’s play and 19 overs but Kent were soon back amongst the wickets when Colin Ackermann (34) swept across a quicker one from left-arm spinner Imran Qayyum to become the 11th lbw victim of the game.

Foxes’ first-innings top-scorer Lewis Hill soon departed to the same bowler without scoring. Seemingly troubled by a man in at silly point, he drove hard only to miscue to Joe Denly at cover as the Foxes went in at tea on 135 for six – an overall lead of 152.

The final day started with Kent batting on in search of a fourth batting bonus point only to fall 17 runs short despite an eye-catching career best 39 by Imran Qayyum and 22 from Adam Milne. Qayyum was the last man to go, edging an attempted steer to third man to the keeper, while Neil Dexter was the clear pick of the Foxes attack with figures of five for 76.

Kent’s rookie spinner Qayyum, who continued his steady progress with three wickets in the match, summed up the dressing room mood as disappointed.

“It is a shame because we were in the game with Darren’s eight wickets and batted reasonably well on that second day, but the rain on that third day really hurt us. We needed a win in terms of our promotion push, and although we’ve got four games left, it’s bitterly disappointing that we’ve only come out of this with a draw.

Leicestershire skipper Cosgrove also found it a frustrating last day. “There was possibly a very good game building up here so it was disappointing that we lost that third day to rain.

“We could have set up a game and had a really exciting day, but it wasn’t to be. It was always going to be hard to bowl them out on that pitch, we needed time, but they didn’t let us get going with the bat.”

Explaining his own 19-ball cameo, he added: “I was just trying to get rid of some frustration. It [the frustration] and Matt Coles got the better of me in the end – I guess he’ll be happy with one for 24 in the over!”