Rain halts Kent’s progress at Canterbury
Rain halts Kent’s progress at Canterbury

Three violent downpours led to a second weather-interrupted day to Kent’s 168th Canterbury Week County Championship clash with Essex.

Only 41 overs were sent down between the showers as Essex reached 32 for one after 14.4 overs in response to Kent’s first innings total of 226 all out.  

A tenacious ninth-wicket stand worth 65 helped Kent pass 200 for a precious batting bonus point on the second morning after Kent had resumed on their first day score of 125 for six.

The hosts lost Ollie Rayner in the third over of the day when Mohammad Amir plucked out his off stump with an in-swinging yorker that thudded off the right-hander’s pads and onto the timbers.

Darren Stevens added only six to the tally before he walked across one from Sam Cook to go leg before, bringing Podmore and Matt Milnes together for their useful 62-minute stand.

With the batting point banked, Milnes prodded outside off stump to one from Ravi Bopara and edged to Alistair Cook at first slip and the first rain shower arrived soon after to take the players in for an early lunch.

After the resumption, Podmore went on to his second championship half-century for Kent from 65 balls and with eight fours and a six. He lost his 10th wicket partner Mitch Claydon to an uppish drive caught at extra cover, leaving Podmore unbeaten on 54 – his highest first-class score for the county.

Cook finished with excellent figures of five for 42, while Amir posted four for 48 in his sole four-day game for Essex this season and the last first-class appearance of his career.  

After a huge mopping up exercise, Essex started their reply at 4pm but it would last less than an hour. In the 14.4 overs play before the rain returned, the visitors lost Nick Browne for six to a sharp catch at second slip by Rayner off Podmore.

At the other end, Cook survived two lbw shouts against Stevens, who also beat the left-hander’s outside edge on a couple of occasions without feathering the willow. 

Essex head coach Anthony McGrath said: “It’s been frustrating with the weather and I think it has surprised us all. We didnt realise we would have as much rain as we did and how heavy it has been and that’s been frustrating for both teams.

“As for the cricket that has been played, I thought we bowled really well. After the new ball went softer, the pitch seemed to flatten out a fair bit and Kent put a good partnership on for the ninth wicket. There are only two days left, so the plan is to bat as long as possible now. We have to get through that tricky patch in the morning and then hopefully make hay in the evening session.

“This pitch has been undercover for the best part of four days, it was always going to be slow and offer a little bit for the slower bowlers, who nibble it around a bit. It was always going to be difficult to score and that’s how it’s proved.”

Kent’s half-century maker Podmore said: “I think we’re in a good position, me and Matt Milnes got us up to a respectable total as the wicket got flatter, but the weather and the overheads made is slightly more uneasy for the Essex batsman when we got to bowl.

“Overall it was a pretty good day for us. There was a bit of nibble in it, yes, we’d have liked to have bowled a little bit fuller and challenged the stumps and front pad a little bit more than we did. 

“We will have to bowl well, Tom Westley and Sir Alistair are two very experienced, high-quality players but if we can get one or both of them early tomorrow morning then things might get interesting. Any middle order can be vulnerable no matter who you are, so fingers crossed.”