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Chelmsford, July 19 - 22, 2023, County Championship Division One
207 & 280
(T:30) 458/8d & 30/3

Essex won by 7 wickets


Harry Finch hundred keeps Essex waiting

Kent No. 3 scores first century in two years to hold up title-chasing hosts

ECB Reporters Network
Joey Evison works one to the leg side, LV= Insurance County Championship, Surrey vs Kent, The Kia Oval, May 18, 2023

Joey Evison chimed in with a half-century  •  Getty Images for Surrey CCC

Kent 207 and 265 for 7 (Finch 114, Evison 56*, Harmer 3-64) lead Essex 458 for 8 dec by 14 runs
Harry Finch batted for five hours in recording a valiant century for Kent that defied Essex from claiming a LV= Insurance County Championship victory inside three days. The 28-year-old's 114 at a strike rate of exactly 50 was his first sortie into three-figures since he compiled one two years ago against his former county Sussex, and the fifth of a mercurial first-class career.
Essex, looking for a fourth successive win to put pressure on Championship leaders Surrey, endured a frustrating day in the field as Finch led the way in partnerships of 93 and 72 with Ben Compton and Joey Evison for the second and sixth wickets. Simon Harmer whirled away for 38 overs, taking three wickets for a parsimonious 64 runs, but it was not enough to prevent Kent taking the match into a fourth day and ensuring Essex will have to bat again.
Essex had taken a wicket with the last ball of day two but had to wait until the 14th ball of the afternoon session on day three for the second. It needed a spectacular one-handed diving catch at leg gully by Harmer to end Ben Compton's barnacle-like 122-ball innings after the Kent second wicket ate into Essex's 251-run advantage on first innings.
Until that breakthrough moment, it looked as if Compton and Finch had bedded in for the long haul, scoring just a solitary leg-bye during one 19-ball sequence of dot balls. Compton regularly thrust out a long left leg to repel Harmer to the extent that the offspinner conceded just 16 runs from his first 11 overs of the day before briefly relinquishing his occupancy at the River End.
Finch, playing only his second Championship game of the season, was by far the more aggressive player in that second-wicket stand and reached his half-century from 105 balls. His second fifty was quicker, taking just 78 balls before raising his helmet to acknowledge the milestone.
Jack Leaning adopted the Compton mantle, batting for 42 balls before one kept low from Harmer and trapped him lbw for six from a 35-run stand. The injured Jordan Cox emerged with Tawanda Muyeye as his runner. However, the helper was not required to move on Cox's behalf as the wicketkeeper was scoreless for 16 deliveries and remained motionless on his crease when Sam Cook appealed successfully for lbw.
Essex might have broken the stubborn fifth-wicket resistence between Finch and Evison much earlier. Evison, on 10, received a double reprieve in the blink of an eye when dropped by wicketkeeper Adam Rossington, who then missed the potential stumping as Evison overbalanced. It was a miss that was to prove costly.
Essex tossed the new ball to Harmer after just three overs and with his third ball he struck as Finch swept loosely to Paul Walter at short midwicket. Joe Denly, batting despite suffering back spasms, felt his side as he on-drove his first ball for four, but only lasted another six deliveries before he turned Harmer into Alastair Cook's hands at slip.
Evison nudged a single to reach a 96-ball fifty before Grant Stewart hit consecutive boundaries to take Kent within a run of making Essex bat again. But he then tried to take them into the black with another boundary, but only picked out long-off to give Matt Critchley a wicket.