Bob Willis Trophy: Essex defeat Kent in tense finish at Chelmsford

Essex's Adam Wheater
Adam Wheater came to the wicket with Essex still 70 short of their target and saw them through to victory
Bob Willis Trophy, Cloudfm County Ground (day four):
Kent 387 & 112: Cox 29; Harmer 4-35, S Cook 3-19
Essex 298& 202-8: A Cook 66, Khushi 45; Thomas 4-32, Stewart 3-48
Essex (21 pts) beat Kent (7 pts) by two wickets

Birthday boy Sam Cook and Adam Wheater rolled Essex over the winning line as the county champions edged a Bob Willis Trophy thriller over Kent by two wickets.

Essex still required 31 runs when Cook, who turned 23 on Tuesday, and wicketkeeper Wheater came together following a batting collapse created by Ivan Thomas.

Former England captain Sir Alastair Cook (66) and 21-year-old debutant Feroze Khushi (45) had put on 86 for the fifth wicket to tilt the balance towards Essex.

But Thomas, who missed the entirety of the 2019 season after he needed surgery to reconstruct his anterior cruciate ligament, took four wickets in 16 legal balls.

But the ninth-wicket pair hung on with Sam Cook scoring the winning runs to send Essex top of the South Group table.

Kent had been on top of the match for two-and-a-half days, having boasted a first-innings lead of 89.

But things started to unravel when they were bowled out for 112, thanks to Simon Harmer's four wickets and fast bowlers Sam Cook and Jamie Porter's contributions on day three.

Their first mission on the fourth day was to remove nightwatchman Porter quickly, which Grant Stewart managed in the 10th over - Porter striking to Daniel Bell-Drummond, who was also celebrating his birthday, at short cover.

That brought Sir Alastair Cook to the crease, where he settled in for the long haul, but Kent forced another twist in the topsy-turvy contest when Stewart and Hamidullah Qadri shared three wickets in five overs, for only 13 runs.

It would undoubtably have been a nervy time to arrive at the crease for only his second first-class innings, but Khushi shrugged off the butterflies to rebuild with Cook, who reached his 181st first-class half-century in 93 balls

Essex then suffered their second wobble of the day as Thomas sparked a collapse on the way to figures of 4-32 before Wheater (26 not out) and Sam Cook (15 not out) shared the remaining runs to get Essex up and running at the start of the truncated 2020 season.

Match report supplied by PA Media.

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