Kent 581 for 9 dec (Compton 129, Cox 129, Muyeye 58, Stevens 51) drew with Essex 514 and 68 for 1
Even Alastair Cook turned his arm over as Kent batted on and on for 187 overs in their first innings to eventually eclipse Essex’s total of 514 on the flattest of flat wickets. It was not until the cusp of tea on the fourth day that Kent lost their ninth and final wicket – Joe Denly being unable to bat because of a hamstring injury – to finish 67 runs in front.
The tone for the day was set from the start when Essex’s Australian debutant Mark Steketee, who had leaked 96 runs from his first 25 overs in English cricket, bowled a four-over opening burst of more accurate line and length without conceding any further runs.
Essex rotated the bowling to little effect, though with Critchley and Lawrence rattling through the overs in tandem, they took advantage to work on their over-rate, avoiding any possible sanction by reducing it from minus two at the beginning of the day to plus two by the end.
Cox had batted brightly in the early stages of his innings but shrank into his shell as Kent’s batting adopted a no-risk policy. He had added just 29 runs to his overnight score in more than two hours when he popped up a dolly to short mid-on off Lawrence.
Ironically, given Lawrence bowling’s style, the wicket came soon after Essex had taken the second new ball.
Critchley added his third wicket when Nathan Gilchrist chose to leave a ball rather theatrically and was suitably embarrassed to turn and see his off-stump pinned back.
Milnes, having reached his half-century, launched a six over Critchley’s head. But two balls later he had a rush of blood and picked out substitute Luc Benkenstein on the midwicket boundary.
Bird recorded the fastest fifty of the match having faced just 45 balls when he hit a second six back over Critchley’s head. He had had a reprieve of sorts just before when Cook senior’s first ball induced a thick edge that would have been meat and drink to third slip if his captain had given him one.
Essex batted for 22 overs in their second innings for the loss of Nick Browne, one of the first-innings centurions, who edged Gilchrist to a diving slip for nine.