Kent v Essex, Royal London Cup, South Group, Canterbury May 17, 2017

Essex top group to secure semi-final berth

ECB Reporters Network

Essex 307 for 6 (Chopra 83, Cook 54) beat Kent 50 for 3 by 57 runs (DLS method)

Alastair Cook continued his fine form with another half-century © Getty Images

Essex landed their seventh win in eight starts and marched through to the Royal London Cup semi-finals following a 57-run triumph on the Duckworth/Lewis/Stern method over South Group wooden-spoonists Kent.

In pursuit of the visitors' 307 for 6, Kent had slumped to 50 for 3 after 11 overs when the rain, that had already wiped out the day's three other group games in the south east, arrived abruptly to end proceedings and inflict a seventh defeat upon the basement hosts.

Kent opened their reply with in-form Daniel Bell-Drummond and former Tonbridge School prodigy Zak Crawley, who was making his first-team debut. In fast-fading light and with rain on the way Crawley, in attempting to force the pace, clipped one off his stumps from Jamie Porter only to pick out Varun Chopra at deep square leg and march off for 2.

With his side already 30-odd behind on the asking rate, Kent skipper Sam Northeast smeared across the line to be bowled by Ashar Zaidi.

Zaidi struck in his next over by snaring Sean Dickson lbw on the back foot, bringing in Alex Blake, who lightened Kent gloom with three, quick boundaries before the rain intensified to end proceedings just before 6.30pm.

Batting first after winning the toss, the Essex top-order rock that is Alastair Cook swept to a comfortable run-a-ball 50 and, in the process, moved past the 500-run milestone at an average of almost 72 in this season's RLODC qualification campaign.

Cook contributed 54 to an opening stand of 95 with Varun Chopra before he lent back to cut the fifth ball of the game from left-arm spinner Imran Qayyum, only to edge into the gloves of Adam Rouse.

Chopra posted a 25th half-century in the format from 76 balls and appeared destined for three figures until he chopped on when also aiming a late cut against Qayyum to go for 83.

Callum Haggett accounted for Tom Westley to a catch behind when the Essex right-hander steered an attempted run-down to third man off the bat face and straight to the keeper.

Dan Lawrence hit the first six of the day in the 40th over when he reverse-swept one from Qayyum over the ropes at backward point endangering the replacement St Lawrence lime tree.

But, in the quest for late runs, Lawrence perished with 32 to his name, driving on the up against Ivan Thomas he picked out Bell-Drummond tumbling to his right at mid-off.

After a quickfire 22, Zaidi holed out to long-on to gift Charlie Hartley a wicket, then Ravi Bopara, on 49, sliced to backward point to give Haggett and second scalp.

Qayyum also bagged two, albeit at a cost of 79 runs after Kent - without a hope of qualification and having bid farewell to their overseas player Wayne Parnell - opted to rest six other first-choice regulars and give a first-team debut to teenage batsman Crawley and a domestic List A bow to Qayyum.

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  • comedy on May 18, 2017, 20:47 GMT

    DSA also said cook wasnt good enough to get in any counties one day team, and when challenged on that he said well no one could have predicted it (clearly ignoring his existing excellent domestic one day and t20 record) and no one would back him to carry on scoring runs in the following one day fixtures. What has he done? scored a hatful more and done so well hes forced his way as an automatic pick in the south team! i'd take anything he says with a pinch of salt. Essex packed the team with batting to protect against the run rate. Kent were fully justified in picking a weakened team as they had npothing to play for. Rather hungry fringe players trying to show what they can do than first teamers going through the motions protecting themselves. it was only a couple of players from full strength anyway. As for bringing the game into disrepute, perhaps Somerset should have a look at the disgraceful 4 day pitchs they keep churning out...

  • Lee on May 18, 2017, 10:08 GMT

    Outstanding again from Essex...a few might feel hard done by if dropped for the semi. Great balance in the team...should have won every game so far

  • Pelham on May 18, 2017, 6:19 GMT

    hatpeg on May 18, 2017, 5:46 GMT: Varun Chopra scored his 124 against Glamorgan batting at number four. D.S.A said "first big score as an opener".

  • Keith on May 18, 2017, 5:46 GMT

    You seem to forget Chopra scored 124 against Glamorgan 10 days ago.

  • Pelham on May 18, 2017, 5:23 GMT

    D.S.A on May 18, 2017, 2:09 GMT: I am not sure that Kent were justified in fielding an under strength side. If Somerset had been able to play and win their match, they could legitimately claim that Kent's weakened side handed a win to Essex, who were not guaranteed first place in the group otherwise. My reasoning is that if Somerset had won and Essex had lost, both teams would have had 12 points with 6 wins. It would then have come down to net run rate, and I do not think the gap was insurmountable. Because in this competition first place in the group gets an automatic semi-final place and second does not, I think Kent had a duty to observe the letter and spirit of Clause 2 of the general Rules for First Class County Competitions, which requires full strength teams in all three formats of the game.

  • Devinderpal Singh on May 18, 2017, 2:09 GMT

    It's a shame Kent picked an under-strength side, but I suppose they had nothing to play for. I think this is the first match that Essex played 8 batsmen, which is an interesting move, but maybe it is about keeping the fast bowlers fresh in the season. Porter did not play in the last match, but here, he was only one of two fast bowlers, so that should pay off at the back-end of the season when the pace bowlers would not have been over-used at that point. Anyway, Cook carries on scoring runs, and Chopra gets his first big score as an opener in the O-DC. Only a matter of when. Maybe they will be preferred openers in the Blast... Bopara carries on scoring runs against Kent, though the innings was curious. There were only 7 dots, which is good, but scored only two 4's/6's (two 6's in this case). He ran a lot of his runs, which is not necessarily bad, but has he lost his devastating boundary-hitting? Essex are looking very strong at the moment, with pretty much all elements firing.

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