Match Report – ESSEX vs KENT sixth Match, April 12 – 15, 2024

Essex 421 for six (Elgar 120, Critchley 103*, Cox 67) vs Kent

Nothing modifications with any nice pace at Chelmsford. Plans are presently afoot for a grand renovation of the pavilion and its surrounding concourse – the one nook of this postage-stamp floor with any wriggle-room for enlargement – although slightly like this week’s announcement that the bottom’s Hayes Shut and River Ends have been renamed in honour of its most storied Take a look at performers, Graham Gooch and Sir Alastair Cook dinner, there’s been no pretence of an improve in signage within the interim. Certainly, the interactive “Graham Napier Sixes Path”, with its 16 plaques to commemorate every of Napier’s swings for the bleachers in his well-known T20 onslaught in opposition to Sussex in 2008, stays Chelmsford’s most seen tribute to any former participant, Graham or in any other case.

Till, that’s, Dean Elgar rocked up with a note-perfect tribute to Cook dinner, whose studiously nameless retirement final summer season had precluded any official makes an attempt to ship him off in fashion. As if to make amends, Elgar crammed his boots – in each sense – with no fuss and little flourish. Simply 176 balls of nuggetty software throughout the perfect a part of two classes, as Essex’s newest left-handed ex-Take a look at opener shifted by means of his gears with the identical unshowy elitism that his English forebear had habitually dropped at bear.

And, simply as had been the case in Essex’s opening-week victory at Trent Bridge, Elgar’s sidekick all through an innings-defining third-wicket stand of 159 was an up-and-coming England prospect with the identical weight and vary of stroke because the lately departed Dan Lawrence. Between them, Elgar and Jordan Cox set about convincing a powerful first-day crowd of two,226 that nothing by any means has modified about Essex’s red-ball batting prowess. A scoreline of 421 for six, capped by an unbeaten century from Matt Critchley, amply backed up that pretence.

It wasn’t all plain crusing for Essex after Tom Westley had received a useful toss on the primary genuinely shirt-sleeves day of the season. In step with the uneven problem that this month’s two-round experiment with the Kookaburra ball has created, Kent’s seamers brought on havoc for exactly 21 balls. In that point, Westley himself was caught behind for five off George Garrett, after Feroz Khushi – whose use of an improperly sized bat at Trent Bridge nonetheless threatens his facet’s top-of-the-table standing – selected to not use it in any respect this week in being bowled by Wes Agar whereas shouldering arms first-ball.

That double-whammy introduced Cox out to face his former team-mates at a clumsy 10 for two – and given his pointed pre-season remarks about Kent’s lack of red-ball ambition, the stage was set for him to be served a big dollop of schadenfreude. As an alternative, Cox’s opening gambit was a volley of terribly poised drives down the bottom – three fours and a 3 as Garrett strained for swing – and as he marched to fifteen from his first six balls, it was as if all risk off the pitch or by means of the air had been dragged away with him.

Cox’s confidence on the entrance foot was ample excuse for Elgar to step up his personal intent with a sequence of compact drives of his personal, however it was the introduction of Matt Parkinson’s legspin that kicked Essex’s innings into overdrive. Cox greeted his first-ball full-toss with a dismissive slap by means of the covers – the primary of three fours in a 13-run first over – and he was scarcely allowed to settle thereafter in leaking 25 runs in his first three.

Having romped to his fifty from 61 balls, an opportunity got here and went for Cox when Agar at superb leg fumbled a top-edged pull off Nathan Gilchrist, however he had added solely seven extra runs when Garrett pushed a contact fuller to pin him on the knee-roll for 67. It was hardly the harbinger of a Kent fightback, nonetheless. Critchley emerged with a platform of 169 for 3 however simply as importantly the Kookaburra coming into its dead-zone within the thirty ninth over, and Essex duly punched alongside at a fee of 4.5 an over, with scarcely a have to over-reach themselves.

Elgar’s departure got here as one thing of a shock when, on 120, he popped a tame catch to quick midwicket off Parkinson and dropped his bat in frustration at his personal missed alternative, however that merely unleashed the lengthy levers of “Tall” Paul Walter, who bombed the long-off boundary with a 4 and two more and more weighty sixes earlier than scuffing a 3rd try to present Parkinson his second wicket.

Michael Pepper, too, peppered the boundary, together with with a full-faced carry for six over the quilt rope, solely to pick deep third with an tried ramp, one wanting his fifty. Critchley, nonetheless, made no such error in carrying Essex previous the second new ball and thru to the shut, with the promise of a lot extra the place these first-day choices had come from.

The one really duff be aware for Essex had come earlier than play, when Sam Cook dinner – their Kookaburra-proofed seamer whose ten-wicket haul had routed Nottinghamshire within the first spherical – was dominated out of competition. Not, it must be stated, in protest on the flawed Cook dinner getting the honour of an Finish named after him, however as a precaution after feeling a thigh pressure.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo. @miller_cricket

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *