Vitality County Championship Match Preview – Essex v Kent – Division One

Vitality County Championship Match Preview – Essex v Kent – Division One

A South East derby awaits us in round two of the Vitality County Championship as Essex host Kent at fortress Chelmsford.

Essex is fresh off a thrilling win at Trent Bridge inspired by Sam Cook’s 10 wickets; just as importantly, they were the only team to force a win in a rain-affected round one. Meanwhile, visitors from the other side of the Thames played out a rain-affected draw at Canterbury against Somerset.

The hosts will likely be unchanged for this week’s fixture, with confidence flowing. New signings Dean Elgar and Jordan Cox both made important first innings runs, and most of the top six chipped in with handy runs without going to make a hundred. Matt Critchley and Paul Walter both made fifties alongside handy contributions from Adam Rossington and Shane Snater to set an imposing fourth innings target for Notts. Even with the Kookaburra ball, which offers less to the seam bowlers, the new ball pairing of Jamie Porter and Sam Cook both showed their class to take 15 wickets between them in the game.

The visitors may see a couple of changes to the side which drew with Somerset in round one, with England’s Zak Crawley likely to come into the side, but overseas signing Beyers Swanepoel, a South African fast bowling all-rounder, will not be available until round four. The batters got some vital time in the middle, with captain Daniel Bell-Drummond and Joe Denly both making second innings hundreds, following useful half-centuries from keeper Harry Finch, and Joey Evison in the first innings. The bowlers all got overs into their legs but lacked penetration, which may be due in some part to the effect of the Kookaburra ball, but it is a problem that plagued them last season and they will be praying for round three when the Dukes ball comes back into use.

The hosts should be strong favourites for this one due to their more experienced and incisive bowling line-up., but Kent also have a high-class batting unit which will need to fire if they are come away from Chelmsford with a win.

Key Players

Sam Cook and Jamie Porter are among the best new ball pairings in the country and should be dangerous again. The experiment with the Kookaburra ball for four rounds of the County Championship has divided opinion. Still, it is not just to prepare the current England players for overseas tours but to identify future England bowlers who have the skills to perform at the international level. Sam Cook was often dismissed as a good county-level bowler who lacked the skillset for the next level, but his performance at Trent Bridge with the Kookaburra ball has made many stand up and take notice, and do not be surprised to see him in England whites this summer.

Skipper Daniel Bell-Drummond is a key part of a Kent batting unit which sometimes flatters to deceive. He is a classy player who has been unlucky not to have some sort of international recognition. His ascent into the captaincy this season appears to have given the ‘captaincy bounce’ where many new captains experience an up-tick in performance after taking on the top. With the ball, Matt Parkinson showed some signs of his undoubted quality against Somerset, and he will need to be at his best to help Kent bowl teams out more regularly and look forward to what is often a spin-friendly Chelmsford wicket.

Team news:

Essex squad: TBC

Kent squad: TBC

Weather and conditions:

Days one and two look good with no prospect of rain and temperatures up to 20c, so with an outside possibility of rain on day three, this should allow the contest to take shape. Pitches at Chelmsford usually offer something for the bowlers so the new ball will be crucial, especially with it being the Kookaburra brand of ball.

Date: 12th – 15th April 2024

Time: 11am

Ground: Cloud County Ground, Chelmsford

Odds:  Essex (1/2); Kent (6/4) (William Hill)


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.