Kent 207 and 265 for 7 (Finch 114, Evison 56*, Harmer 3-64) lead Essex 458 for 8 dec by 14 runs
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.