James Hockley and James Tredwell build strong lead
Kent 317 and 327 for 7 v Yorkshire 283
Kent emerged as the winners in a battle of cricketing wills in Canterbury when seventh-wicket partners James Hockley and James Tredwell batted their side into a position of strength against leaders Yorkshire. Tredwell, with an unbeaten 65 from 107 balls, will go into the final day with power to add and his side sitting pretty on 327 for 7 and an overall advantage of 361.
Hockley, who was released by Kent in 2002 only to be hired for a second time last summer - seemed destined to post a maiden first-class hundred in reaching 82 in a shade over three hours. With 11 fours to his name he had already surpassed his previous career best, a modest 72 against Zimbabwe in Canterbury a decade ago, but three figures eluded him once more when he departed three overs from the close. Aiming to glance against left-arm spinner David Wainwright, he was smartly held down the leg-side by keeper Jonathan Bairstow to end a stand worth 113 in 29 overs.
When the pair came together the game was still very evenly poised and, with Kent on 207 for 6, Yorkshire still fancied their chances of a third straight win in this the 200th game between the clubs. Having secured a slight 34-run first innings lead, the hosts made another dreadful start by losing both openers to the new ball before lunch. Joe Denly chased a drive against Tim Bresnan to the keeper then Key, working to leg, fell leg before to Oliver Hannon-Dalby.
Kent rallied bravely with a 59-run stand between Geraint Jones (53) and Martin van Jaarsveld, but their fun ended eight overs after lunch when Jones, in aiming to reverse sweep against Wainwright, fell lbw. Sam Northeast leg before on the back pad to Bresnan, then Darren Stevens slog-sweeping to mid-wicket against Wainwright, also headed back to the dressing room within four overs.
Hockley initially dropped anchor in tandem with van Jaarsveld, but the South African's resolve ended for 78 from 121 balls - including the only six of the day - when he missed an Adil Rashid googly to go lbw. Though Hockley and Tredwell were finally parted 10 minutes from stumps, Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale must already have been pondering the fluctuating fortunes of a game that has seemingly slipped from his side's grasp.
The day had started with Yorkshire losing their last two wickets in the space of 22 minutes to concede a first innings deficit. Ajmal Shahzad went leg before to Amjad Khan (3 for 60) then Azhar Mahmood took his tally to 4 for 58 by snaring last man Hannon-Dalby lbw.
Mark Pennell is the managing director of freelance reporting and public relations agency Kent & Sussex Sport. His new book, Trophies & Tribulations: Forty years of Kent cricket, is published shortly.