A magnificent maiden List A century from Kent’s Matt Coles wasn’t enough as his side suffered a 17 run defeat at the hands of Surrey. Jason Roy’s 112 earlier in the day had put Surrey in a good position but it almost proved not to be enough after Coles, batting at nine, almost took Kent over the line.
With the ball moving around, Roy and Steven Davies got off to a solid start despite both openers being tested by Mitchell Claydon and Matt Coles. Coles found Davies’ edge in the sixth over but Stevens dropped the catch in the slips.
Stevens came into the attack in the eighth over, and immediately made an impact. With 39 wickets in 20 first-class matches, including 11 across the two Championship matches this season, Stevens has become somewhat of a nemesis for Surrey of late, but he took only his first ever wicket against the London side in List A cricket when Davies edged behind on 17. He’ll have been glad that his drop didn’t cost Kent too much.
Roy continued and reached his fifty from 60 balls, but shortly after reaching the milestone, Kumar Sangakkara edged James Tredwell to Stevens who this time made no mistake. Rory Burns came to the crease and he, alongside Roy, steadied the ship. Roy looked in reasonably good touch, though he did offer the occasional chance with a couple of loose shots. He pulled Matt Hunn to the boundary to reach his century from 109 balls.
On more than one occasion in the group stages, Surrey built a solid platform with a high-scoring top order batsman, only to see that platform fall apart when the batsman got out. When Roy slog swept to Blake at midwicket, Surrey would have been hoping it wouldn’t happen again.
It wasn’t to be. In the following over, Burns was bowled around his legs by Coles for 42, leaving Ben Foakes and Zafar Ansari to rebuild the innings, and when Foakes flicked to midwicket on four, Surrey were left 204/5 with 12 overs remaining.
Ansari and James Burke put together a partnership of 38 before Burke attempted to drive, and could only edge to Fabian Cowdrey at backward point. Tom Curran came to the crease and he smashed the last ball of the 48th over back over the head of Claydon. In the next over, Curran attempted the same shot off Coles but could only find Cowdrey just inside the boundary who took an excellent catch.
Next ball, Ansari went across his stumps and was bowled to leave Surrey 265/8. Coles was denied a second hat-trick of the season as Gareth Batty kept the hat-trick delivery out. However, first ball of the final over, Batty edged behind off Claydon before Sam Curran attempted a paddle sweep off the penultimate ball and could only find Hunn as the home side were bowled out for 273.
In the final 87 balls of their innings, Surrey had scored only 81 runs for seven wickets. It may not have cost them in this match, but with a strong Nottinghamshire side coming to The Oval in the semi-final, the London outfit will need to try and avoid another similar collapse if they are to reach Lord’s.
Kent got off to a poor start with 17-year-old Sam Curran taking the wicket of Daniel Bell-Drummond for just a single. Joe Denly then pulled him to Rory Burns and he was gone for 13, and with rain falling, the umpires immediately took the teams off the field at 22/2. Denly clearly wanted to try and catch the Duckworth-Lewis score up but instead his effort arguably hurt his side’s chances.
After a little over an hour off the pitch, the match resumed at 8pm with Kent left with a 40 over innings and requiring a total of 251.
Shortly after the restart, Tom Curran got Cowdrey for seven with a beauty that hit the top of his off stump. In his next over, Northeast came down the pitch, missed the slower ball and was bowled for 23. Ansari came into the attack in the 14th over and second ball, Billings came down the track and was stumped by Ben Foakes.
Alex Blake wasn’t giving up as he reverse swept the first ball of Ansari’s third over into the Peter May stand for six. Next ball however, he chipped to Roy and was gone for 17. At the end of the 19th over, Kent needed to be 173/6 on Duckworth-Lewis. They were 82/6.
Stevens brought up the hundred with a six over long on off Ansari in an over that accumulated 19. First ball of the next over, Batty had Tredwell caught behind for three. Stevens wouldn’t give up as he struck four boundaries including a lovely one-bounce four over mid off.
He and Coles added 39 for the eighth wicket but in Burke’s second over, he edged behind for 37 to leave Kent 140/8 and Surrey would have thought that his departure signaled the victory. What followed was something incredible.
Later that over, Coles hit Burke over the legside before switch hitting Batty for another maximum. Jade Dernbach came back into the attack in the following over and was hit back over his head by Coles. Three balls later, Dernbach bowled Claydon to leave Kent 169/9, and still needing 82 for victory.
The game seemed to be dead and buried but Coles kept the Kent faithful’s hopes up. He got down on one knee and hit Dernbach over long on for six as he reached his maiden List A fifty. In the next over, he skied Tom Curran only for it to fall between fielders, and when he was dropped by Burke next ball, Surrey would have been ever so slightly concerned.
Dernbach then had a short ball dispatched into the OCS stand and was hit into the stand over midwicket two balls later before Burke again went into the stands in the following over. With Surrey pushing the time left to bowl their overs, Batty brought himself back into the attack and was dispatched into the stands in consecutive balls – his over went for 17. Coles took a single off the first ball of the next over and with it, brought up his century from 71 balls with nine sixes.
Kent needed 18 to win from 15 balls, but with the cut off time rapidly approaching, a six run penalty was highly likely and Kent were on the cusp of an unthinkable victory. Coles couldn’t quite get the fairytale ending, as he skied one off Tom Curran and Ben Foakes took the catch to propel the home side into the semi-final.
Kent won’t help but feel that had anyone in the top order stuck around just a little longer, they might have gotten over the line. Meanwhile, Surrey will be questioning quite how they very nearly let a comfortable win slip away from them. They go into the semi-final against Nottinghamshire with plenty to think about. The slip-ups they’ve made in this game haven’t cost them, but it could be a completely different story a week on Monday.