Kent fight back resiliently on day three


Kent dug deep and showed genuine resilience to frustrate Somerset on the third day of this Vitality County Championship Division One clash at the Cooper Associates County Ground.

Having dominated the opening two days, Somerset were looking for more of the same today but a fine double century from Zac Crawley ensured that the home side didn’t get everything their own way.

Somerset were very much in the ascendancy when play began this morning under bright blue skies with Kent resuming on 108 for five, and the game continued in that vein.

Joe Denly and Joey Evison tried to set the tone for the day by playing each ball on its merits and demonstrating obstinate defence as the pair took the score to 145 before their stand came to an end courtesy of Migael Pretorius. The South African set the trap perfectly, and after a couple of outswingers he got one to nip back in to Evison who was bowled for 11.

Lewis Gregory then tied Beyers Swanepoel (6) up in knots and he could only edge to Andy Umeed at first slip at 166 for seven, and when Pretorius trapped Grant Stewart lbw for one the visitors were 173 for eight.

With the addition of just one run to the total, James Rew again demonstrated why his is considered to be one of the brightest young talents around. Craig Overton had switched back to the Marcus Trescothick Pavilion End and he found Denly’s inside edge and Rew did the rest leaping full length to his left and pouching an absolutely stunning catch to send the Kent batter on his way for 61.

Lewis Gregory then wrapped up the innings when he bowled Nathan Gilchrist and Kent were all out for 178, still trailing by 376 runs.

Somerset chose to enforce the follow on, and given what had happed over the course of just over two days, the general consensus was that we may not require all four days in which to generate a result.

However, Kent and in particular Crawley had other ideas.

Knowing that they needed to bat out the day to have any real hope of taking anything from the game, Crawley and Ben Compton set about their task in impressive fashion and negotiated a tricky period before heading in for lunch at 47 without loss.

After the interval, Crawley went to his half century from 68 balls and the Kent opening pair brought up the century stand from 124 deliveries. Compton then followed his teammate to 50 from 67 balls before the 150 partnership arrived in the 32nd over.

Crawley thought he had reached his century when he scruffily dispatched a loose delivery from Tom Lammonby towards the boundary in front of the Somerset Stand, but a dead ball was called. He didn’t have to wait much longer to achieve the feat though as he reached three figures from 136 balls.

Somerset finally made a breakthrough just before tea and it came from an unlikely source.

The home attack which had looked so potent on days one and two, and was now shorn of Josh Davey who was suffering from sickness, had been blunted by the visiting batters. The answer? Throw the ball to Matt Renshaw. The Australian opener is a useful option with the ball and so it proved as his spin accounted for Compton when he was trapped lbw for 65.

When tea arrived, the visitors were 197 for one, still 179 runs in arears.

After tea, the Kent batters continued in a similar fashion and Crawley reached his 150 from 201 balls, and eventually went to his double century with a big six off Andy Umeed.

Daniel Bell-Drummond had watchfully accrued 62 and shared 184 with Crawley for the second wicket but was plumb lbw when Jack Leach generated some turn at 378 for two to give Somerset some relief. Leach struck again in his next over when O’Riordan fell in the same manner for the addition of just six runs to the total.

The new ball was taken as soon as it was made available and with it finally came Crawley’s downfall.

On 238 he attempted to cut Pretorius and edged through to Rew to go for an outstanding 238. His runs came from 267 balls and including 31 fours and two sixes. As you would expect, he received a standing ovation from those within the Cooper Associates County Ground as he made his way from the field of play.

Pretorius struck again in the final over of the day when he bowled Nathan Gilchrist for eight to bring about the close of the day’s drama.

As the players made for the haven of the dressing rooms, Kent were 409 for five, a lead of 33 which has certainly altered the trajectory of this game. However, with that flurry of late wickets, the hosts will still feel that a win is the likeliest result.