Apologies to my regular readers if you’ve been expecting a blog on the Royal London One Day Cup Final but I’ve been blogging as a guest on another blog site. So, we’re back to the Championship and Tests from now on.
There’s lots of tongues here today at the CloudFM County Ground – and tonsils to boot – as the latest Division One round of matches reaches the end of May and the ‘Battle of the Bridge’ which seems to be the marketeers view of every game between Essex and Kent; the ‘Battle of the Dartford Crossings’ doesn’t have the same appeal!
An uncontested toss sees Essex batting on a dry whiteish pitch with a hint of green. I’m sure there’s a relevant paint colour to match but everything looks like magnolia to me! The day started sunny and warming but increased cloud cover and a cold wind take the edge off. According to my Alexa there’s a 47% chance of rain today but more forecast tomorrow.
Anyway, the first exchanges are Stevens and Podmore testing Cook (Sir A) and Browne outside the off stump with some regularity. Four slips stand ready to pounce as prod follows prod, the tonsils exercised at every hit of the pad, play and miss etc. Cook (Sir A) seems to be prodding and missing more than usual; haven’t seen so much outside off stump play from him in a while. What I have noticed both at this match and the last is his tendency to stick his tongue out whilst concentrating hard; I just thought it was me but no, others do it too!
By lunch Essex have prodded and plodded along to 92/2 off 31 overs (a good over rate can be done! And all seam too!). Cook (Sir A) 35 and Lawrence 14. It’s great too see an almost full house on the members side of the ground and a goodly number on the public side too; message to the ECB is play these matches when people can watch, and they’ll come in numbers!
Add in some good weather too and it would be even better; but today is sunny and warm but then when it clouds over, the wind gets up and the mercury drops! And for once, it seems that the care homes have kept all their residents indoors as the average age of spectators is considerably lower than normal!
Tea…almost on time (see…it can be done) sees Essex 197/3. Cook (Sir A) 78 and Bopara 23; Lawrence was the only wicket to fall in that session for 42. All a bit flat; flattening pitch?, flattening of bowler/fielding pressure? Who knows. Weather alternates between sunny and overcast… little help for bowlers this afternoon. Grit and determination from Cook (Sir A)…century looks pencilled in. Kent look flat, just keeping in the game, feeling their way in Division One.
And the century was inked in. A fine knock, struggling at times, fluent at others but never really in danger. Kent went flat in the afternoon session (lunched too well?) and this continues into the evening session. It’s hard to see how Kent will take their next wicket. Bopara and the Knight add 130 runs before they set off for two leg byes but the Knight’s too slow and is run out. Nonetheless with the batting to follow 275/4 boded well for 450/500 sometime tomorrow afternoon.
But there was a series of twists and turns…new ball taken and the run out, new batsmen needing to make a start. All this means a collapse of 5 wickets for 26 runs as the lower orders collapse and Kent are back in the game! 303/8 at the end of the day has honours even but shaded to Kent as Essex should have been better.
It could be a pitch where bowlers need to optimise the new ball and batsmen play themselves in; hard graft will succeed but we shall see.
But it’s a day where we only see ducks outside the boundary but one where you need a blanket or fancy dress to keep warm!
There’s more twists and turns to come and even Cook (Sir A) concentrating so hard…