Jones and van Jaarsveld make Essex pay
Kent 360 for 6 v Essex
Injuries to Ravi Bopara and Maurice Chambers gave Kent a slightly unfair advantage on the opening day in Canterbury where the hosts closed on 360 for 6.
A fourth-wicket stand of 176 in 41 overs helped Kent recover from a sticky start and the loss of their captain Rob Key in only the eighth over, by which time Bopara had already limped off clutching his back only to be followed soon after by Chambers who succumbed to a side strain.
Having elected to bat first after winning the toss, Key, playing his first game since fracturing a little finger at The Rose Bowl three weeks ago, got off to a positive start with boundaries in each of the opening two overs. But with his score on 13 Key turned one off his pads from Chambers only to see Jaik Mickleburgh pocket a reflex catch at forward short leg that made it 26 for 1.
Kent promoted Sam Notheast to bat at No. 3, the berth occupied hitherto this year and last by Jones, and the youngster responded with four stylish boundaries in a cameo 25 before tossing away his wicket to Essex debutant Bryce McGain.
Advancing down the wicket to drive, Northeast failed to get to the pitch of it and simply lofted a catch to long off where substitute fielder Grant Flower took a fine running catch. Three overs after lunch Australian leg-spinner McGain, a 38-year-old one-Test wonder, accounted for Joe Denly by finding a thin outside edge through to James Foster.
With both Bopara and Chambers out of action, experienced fourth-wicket partners Jones and van Jaarsveld took advantage by posting Kent's second best stand of the Championship campaign over the best part of three hours. Van Jaarsveld, suffering his worst season since joining Kent from Northamptonshire in 2005, went on to post his first championship hundred of the campaign from 148-balls and with 13 fours and a six.
He celebrated with another boundary of McGain, but the wrist spinner then enticed the South African to miscue an attempted on-drive to mid- off where former Kent player David Masters took a comfortable catch. Geraint Jones was a single shy of his second hundred of the summer when he too, needlessly got out to McGain. Looking to loft over the bowler's head, Jones mistimed to mid-on to end his 155-ball stay on a disappointing note. McGain finished his 30 overs for the day with figures of 4 for 135.
With two of their bowling department out of action and undergoing treatment, Essex delayed taking the second new ball for 10 overs, but it finally did the trick in the penultimate over of the day. Having garnered an attractive 34 from 65 balls Darren Stevens aimed an ambitious drive 'on the up' only to edge to Tim Phillips at second slip and give Masters his first wicket of the match.
Mark Pennell is the managing director of freelance reporting and public relations agency Kent & Sussex Sport