Key bemoans batting after heavy defeat
Essex 273 (Foster 76, Wheater 82, Shreck 5-51) and 55 for 3 beat Kent 226 (Powell 62) and 101 (Chambers 4-31) by seven wickets
The tea-time scones, fresh cream and strawberries were still served to the punters cramming the marquees at Kent's Canterbury Week clash with Essex on Friday; the only pity was that, by then, the game was long finished and the majority of players had left the ground.
Kent's seven-wicket defeat with four sessions to spare against their previously struggling neighbours not only further savaged the dwindling Kentish coffers, but has virtually put paid to their faltering push for Championship promotion.
Resuming on their parlous overnight score of 9 for 3, Kent proceeded to lose their last seven wickets for 92 runs in the space of 29 overs - and this against a three-man Essex attack already without their wily seamer David Masters, who was hampered by a side strain.
Harbhajan Singh proved a handful in taking three, as did Graham Napier, who showed all his experience to also bag three and lend support to Essex's spearhead, Maurice Chambers, who posted his first four-wicket return in two years.
Kent captain Rob Key conceded afterwards that his decision to take first use of the pitch in this 161st Canterbury Week game was not a simple one.
"There's always something in the wickets here and, I have to say, I don't mind losing the toss because it's never an easy decision to bat," Key said. "But one thing's for sure, when we do bat, regardless of whether it's second or first, we have to do it a fair bit better than we did in this match. The wicket was never bad enough for us to be bowled out for 101.
"We need someone to come through the tricky periods and make a big score, but no one's holding their hands up right now."
"Had we set them 150-plus to win, then it might have been a different result, who knows, but setting them only 55 we had no chance. The margins in difference are quite small, but they might have made a big impression on the outcome if only we had batted that little bit more sensibly."
Needing 55 for their second win of the Division Two campaign - their first came against Gloucestershire in the opening round - Essex lost both openers within 15 overs. Azhar Mahmood, on his first Championship appearance of the season, snared Jaik Mickleburgh lbw as he wafted to leg, then removed Tom Westley's off pole after an errant decision to leave alone.
Owais Shah inexplicably holed out to long leg to gift Charlie Shreck a wicket and make it 35 for 3 but Ryan ten Doeschate marched in to finish it in no-nonsense style with a six into the Frank Woolley stand and a manufactured single to square leg.
A delighted Essex captain, James Foster, said afterwards: "I thought this was a terrific result for us, and we needed it. We showed a lot of character and it was a big performance because it gives us a sniff of promotion and something to play for in the run in."