Somerset on top but match ends in a draw
Somerset’s bowlers were in fine form on the final day of this LV= Insurance County Championship match against Kent at the Cooper Associates County Ground, but despite forcing the visitors to follow-on, the game ended in a draw.
The visitors were bowled out for 235 after Somerset had declared their first innings total on an overnight 404 for four, Joe Denly making a priceless 73 to guide his side from a perilous 31 for four. Skipper Tom Abell was the pick of the home bowling attack with four for 52, while Lewis Gregory claimed three for 49.
Trailing by 169 and faced with a possible 41 overs in their second innings, Kent made a better fist of things and were 44 for two when the players shook hands at 4.30pm. They took six points from the game and Somerset 12.
The declaration offered the hosts their only chance of winning the game, and it soon looked more than an outside bet as Kent lost four wickets in the first 10.3 overs of the day, Gregory claiming three of them from the Marcus Trescothick Pavilion End.
The experienced all-rounder had Ben Compton caught behind pushing forward, Daniel Bell-Drummond pouched at mid-wicket and Jack Leaning leg-before in a seven-over opening spell of three for 30.
Jack Brooks, on his final Somerset appearance, weighed in with the wicket of Tawanda Muyeye, well caught low down by Andy Umeed at second slip and there was clear evidence of help for the seamers in a pitch that retained a tinge of greenness.
The visitors’ need for batting points saw them bat positively in adversity. Denly and Harry Finch added 54 in 10.1 overs before the latter nicked a drive off seamer Abell through to wicketkeeper James Rew.
Denly was severe on anything around half-volley length, producing a string of well-timed straight and cover drives to move to 40 by lunch, which was taken at 110 for five.
The afternoon session began well for Kent with Marcus O’Riordan providing good support for Denly, who went to a precious half-century off 74 balls, with eight fours. The pair built on the score with increasing confidence and had added 71 in 17.2 overs when O’Riordan fell lbw moving across his stumps to a delivery from Abell.
Still it seemed Kent might avoid the follow-on and perhaps notch a batting point until a clatter of wickets with the total on 200 saw Abell gain another leg-before decision to remove Denly before striking again four balls later, bowling Jas Singh for a duck.
With no addition to the score, Joey Evison, who had batted well for his 23, pulled a short ball from Wagner to Tom Banton at square-leg. Michael Hogan, injured bowling on the first day, walked out with a runner and contributed 19 to a last-wicket stand of 35 with Arafat Bhuiyan before having his stumps scattered by Abell, who had been prevented from bowling by a side problem for much of the season.
Tea was taken before Compton and Muyeye launched the Kent follow-on, knowing their side had garnered only one bonus point from the match and desperate to ensure five for the draw.
There was greater assurance to their batting in bright sunshine, but with the total on 34 in the 11th over Davey had Muyeye well caught by the diving Abell at third slip for 24. Compton edged a ball from Wagner that left him through to Rew, but by then the draw was inevitable and after one over from Tom Banton the players shook hands.