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RESULT
Beckenham, May 20 - 23, 2019, Specsavers County Championship Division One
439 & 280
(T:426) 294 & 352/8

Match drawn

Report

Kent give Surrey a scare before match ends in a draw

Sean Dickson, Heino Kuhn shine with the bat as task proves too great for Surrey's bowlers

Sean Dickson celebrates his century with Heino Kuhn, Kent v Surrey, County Championship Division One, Beckenham, May 21, 2019

Sean Dickson celebrates his century with Heino Kuhn  •  Getty Images

Kent 294 (Dickson 128, Crawley 63) and 352 for 8 (Dickson 91, Kuhn 81, Mulder 68) drew with Surrey 439 (Jacks 120, Borthwick 95, Clarke 88) and 280 (Curran 80, Borthwick 58)
By the end of this fluctuating, frequently fascinating match, 22 players and a couple of physios will quite definitely have earned their sleep. Whether Surrey's bowlers, who threw everything they had at a Kent side that showed exceptional character to survive a turbulent fourth day and force a draw, will be able to achieve the sanctuary of somnolence, is an altogether different matter.
Kent began the day needing an additional, and highly improbable 380 runs to pull off victory with nine wickets in hand. Had they succeeded it would have been the 12th-highest successful run chase in County Championship history. The fact that scribes were rushing around, consulting scorers and archivists in search of this arcane statistic tells you how well Kent's middle order negotiated the bulk of a terrific day.
Adam Riley, the nightwatchman, survived what in retrospect was a crucial 35 minutes before Sam Curran uprooted his leg stump with a yorker speared in from round the wicket. But in what proved perhaps the pivotal moment of the match shortly after, Curran was forced from the field, clutching his hamstring. Surrey have had wretched luck with injuries this season, and being a bowler down on an unresponsive track under glorious blue skies put an ultimately impossible burden on the pace bowling trio of Morne Morkel, Rikki Clarke and Conor McKerr. Throughout this match the new ball has been a disproportionately powerful weapon. To be deprived of their chief exponent of swing was a cruel blow so early in the day.
What followed was the day's first flashpoint. Clarke, twice in two balls was convinced he had Daniel Bell-Drummond. The first was a superb piece of umpiring by Graham Lloyd who adjudged that the noise everyone heard was in fact the ball brushing the back of the batsman's leg. The second decision was perhaps a little tighter. Bell-Drummond looked to be trapped bang in front on the knee roll. He might just about have jammed the ball into his pad. If he hadn't, he was stone dead.
Clarke took the latter view and expressed his displeasure. The umpires convened. Words were spoken. We will find out soon enough if there are ramifications. Surrey have been reprimanded before, and rather too often for their comfort. They really don't need an appearance before the Cricket Disciplinary Commission. The sound and fury was soon forgotten as Bell-Drummond was adjudged lbw in Clarke's next over.
Three down at lunch and the game was still very much Surrey's for the winning. By tea, thoughts had flipped to an improbable and spectacular Kent run chase as Surrey's bowlers laboured with the older ball. Once again Sean Dickson defied the attack with a compact and organised display. He fell nine runs short of what would have been his second century of the match, edging Clarke behind.
Between now and late July many eyes will be on potential England openers for the Ashes. Dickson might just be one to keep an eye on. His wicket was the only one to fall in that middle session and Kent went to tea requiring a further 193 to win from 35 overs with six wickets in hand. Six and a half really given Riley's nightwatchman status.
Morkel inevitably was entrusted with the new ball as soon as it became available. Immediately he picked up Ollie Robinson, caught at midwicket to end a stand of 70 with Kent's captain Heino Kuhn, who was threatening to reach the parts that other diminutive South African-born middle-order batsmen can't reach.
Robinson's departure was followed soon after, though, by Kuhn, who was at the very least dismayed, incandescent with fury perhaps, when Lloyd decided that a ball that leaped from Morkel and seemed to take his shoulder was judged to have grazed his bat en route.
At 263 for 6 and with another 26 overs to be bowled, fleeting thoughts of Kent's highest fourth-innings run chase were abandoned. It was all about the draw now. Had Clarke, who bowled magnificently throughout this game, not overstepped when enticing an edge from Wiaan Mulder (again umpire Lloyd the adjudicator) into the momentarily gleeful hands of Dean Elgar at slip, that draw would most likely never have come. Instead Mulder hung on to the end to register an unbeaten half-century on his Kent debut to go with his five wickets.
Alex Blake and Darren Stevens negotiated 70 balls between them and Harry Podmore managed to see out the last four overs to bring home ten points for the home side.
Promoted teams often struggle in Division One. This year only one side will be relegated. In the last ten years, an average of eight points per match has been enough every year but one to guarantee finishing above the bottom club. Kent have so far managed 43 points in four matches. More importantly, they have stood toe to toe with the champions and despite a poor session at the end of day two, have come out with honours even.
Their fans needn't fear relegation. After a performance like this, they can entertain loftier ambitions.

Daniel Norcross is a freelance broadcaster and regular commentator on BBC Test Match Special @norcrosscricket

Kent Innings
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Specsavers County Championship Division One
TEAMMWLDPT
ESSEX14914228
SOM14932217
HANTS14536176
KENT14554172
YORKS14545165
SURR14266133
WARKS14365131
NOTTS14010467