Kent 379 and 32 for 0 trail Derbyshire 574 for 9 dec (Madsen 163, Thakor 123, Hughes 83, Rutherford 65) by 163 runs
There was little evidence at Canterbury to support the notion that Kent are vigorous promotion candidates despite their lofty position in the table. Derbyshire, without a win all season, drank their fill on a benign pitch against a threadbare attack before calling off their first innings with a lead of 195 and the last pair at the crease.
Wayne Madsen and Shiv Thakor took hundreds off Kent in the corresponding fixture in Derby in May, and did so again, a feat thought by David Griffin, former Board member, freelance photographer and statistician, to be unique in Derbyshire's history.
They were a watchable combination: Madsen neat and orderly for his 163, Thakor displaying nimble footwork and wristy ambition as he contributed 123. Their stand of 144 in 37 overs dominated the third day.
Whether Derbyshire will force victory, though, is highly dubious. Their declaration came with only 15 overs left in the day, hardly enterprising with rain forecast for the final afternoon. Kent's pace bowler Mitch Claydon, fielding at third man, was heard to ask: "163 overs! I don't think I've ever fielder for 163 overs. Why?" Such are the philosophical questions that concern fast bowlers with 30 overs next to their name.
Derbyshire are expected be a bowler light after Will Davis broke down in the first innings with a recurrence of a hip injury. In fading light, Kent saw out the final hour without alarm.
Madsen, whose innings ended when he played across one from Matt Hunn, has 22 Derbyshire hundreds now, a number beaten by only four players - Kim Barnett, now the county's president; the casually talented John Morris; the New Zealander John Wright, a batsman of ungainly defiance; and the dapper South African, Peter Kirsten.
Only Kirsten has scored his hundreds at a faster rate than Madsen's one every 9.2 innings, although four-day cricket has had an influence on that, not forgetting the lack of world-class fast bowlers these days, especially in Division Two. Kent did little to challenge that notion.
Thakor's switch from Leicestershire to Derbyshire at the end of 2014 felt a bit of a sideways move, and his form last season was unspectacular. At 22, he has progressed this summer. This was his fourth Championship century and it was fun to watch, with all manner of little flourishes going on after he has played the shot.
Seventy-five of his runs came off the spinners, James Tredwell and Joe Denly, both of them treated as a convenience, his hundred raised when he struck Tredwell for a straight six. He was dropped by Alex Blake at extra cover and long-off, soon after his hundred, in successive overs off Darren Stevens and Tredwell, eventually succumbing when he chipped to mid-on.
The absence of one Kent pace bowler has already been remarked upon. Up on the dressing room balcony, as the players came off for tea, Matt Coles offered desultory applause and failed to stifle a sizeable yawn. Under scrutiny because of his drink-fuelled antics in Cardiff last week, he had a ponderous training session over lunch, and later sat on an exercise bike, but it did not endear him to every member. "Look at the size of him," said one.
Coles' career is at a critical point and it would be regrettable if his issues are not seriously addressed by all parties, beginning with himself, because he is a good and entertaining cricketer.