Essex v Kent, Chelmsford, 2nd day May 11, 2010

Cook fails as Essex top-order struggle

Kent 474 v Essex 172 for 4

Alastair Cook's run of poor form continued when he was dismissed for a first ball duck as Essex replied to a Kent total of 474 in their County Championship clash at Chelmsford.

The England opener pushed forward against Makhaya Ntini and edged an easy catch to wicketkeeper James Hockley, who was deputising behind the stumps for Geraint Jones, who was off the field complaining of feeling unwell.

Cook has only once reached 50 in his seven championship innings this season and has gathered just 155 runs for an average of just over 22. While Cook was left reflecting on another failure, 21-year-old Tom Westley confirmed his promise by reaching the close within sight of his century with Essex on 172 for 4.

The youngster will resume the third day on 84, an innings that has so far brought him a dozen boundaries against bowling far more testing than that of Essex. The most substantial partnership to date involved Westley and opener Billy Godleman who gathered 76 in 26 overs for the third wicket.

Godleman survived an amazing escape from the final delivery before tea when he played a ball from Simon Cook into his stumps without dislodging a bail. But he failed to make the most of his good fortune because he was bowled by Azhar Mahmood immediately afterwards without adding to his 45.

Mahmood had earlier removed Jaik Mickleburgh while Cook had Mark Pettini neatly taken at second slip by Martin van Jaarsveld to leave Essex on 114 for 4. But that was to be the last of Kent's successes as James Foster curbed his attacking instincts to stay with Westley until the close with Essex still requiring a further 153 to avoid the follow on.

Foster has so far batted for just over an hour and faced 73 deliveries in making 17. Earlier, Darren Stevens recorded his second championship century of the season after Kent had resumed on 355 for 6.

Keeping him company for most of that time was Mahmood, the pair adding 134 for the seventh wicket. It was brought to an end when he was bowled by Ryan ten Doeschate for 64, containing eight boundaries.

Stevens completed his century from 147 deliveries but departed next ball when he swung widely at leg spinner Danish Kaneria and skied a simple catch to Tim Phillips in the gulley. His effort contained 11 fours and 2 sixes.

Ten Doeschate was by far Essex's more successful bowler. The batsman finished with 4 for 77 while Kaneria's two wickets came at a cost of 124 from 33 overs in his first appearance of the season.