Kent 281 (G Jones 108, Blake 44, S Jones 5-35) and 333 for 2 (Key 141*, van Jaarsveld 101*) drew with Derbyshire 583 for 4 (Rogers 208, Park 178*, Smith 59, Khan 4-110)
Kent captain Rob Key and vice captain Martin van Jaarsveld led their side's rearguard action from the front with unbeaten centuries at the Old Racecourse Ground where the visitors lost only one wicket on the final day to secure a hard-earned draw with Derbyshire.
A game of six century stands petered out at 4pm when the sides shook hands on a draw and went off for bad light with Kent sitting pretty on 333 for 2 in their second innings for a slender overall match lead of 31. Division Two leaders Kent banked only seven points for the draw while Derbyshire took 12, but crucially Kent remain 26 points clear at the top and 27 ahead of third-placed Gloucestershire with a game in hand.
Key finished unbeaten on 141 and featured in two hundred partnerships on the final day. He added 133 in 39 overs with Geraint Jones (60) then a further, unbroken 194 in 46 overs with van Jaarsveld (101*) to see Kent to parity after conceding a first-innings deficit of 302.
The visitors, resuming on their overnight total of 44 for 1, suffered only one casualty throughout the three sessions when Jones fell 28 overs into the day for a stylish 60. He scored 42 of his first 50 runs in boundaries, the rest were singles, as he and Key suffered few scares despite overcast conditions. Occasional spinner Greg Smith made the breakthrough, getting one to bounce and take the splice of Jones's bat to give Wayne Madsen the catch at short leg.
Other than that it was plain sailing for Kent as they successfully avoided their third defeat of the season while severely damaging Derbyshire's late tilt for promotion. Key gave one half chance when on 77, Chris Rogers getting fingertips to a low chance at slip against Smith's off-spin, but then cantered through to his second ton against Derbyshire in a month and his fourth of the season overall from 169 balls and with 10 fours. Van Jaarsveld joined him on three figures from 152 balls with nine fours and a six. It was his sixth hundred of another hugely successful summer for Kent.
The game ended somewhat farcically with home wicketkeeper Jamie Pipe sharing the second new ball in tandem with top-order batsman Garry Park. Unsurprisingly, neither troubled Key or van Jaarsveld.