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Page last updated at 17:37 GMT, Friday, 8 April 2011 18:37 UK

Darren Stevens haul puts Kent in charge at Essex

LV= COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP, DIVISION TWO, Chelmsford:
Close, day one: Kent 247, Essex 49-6
Essex 3pts, Kent 3pts
Match scorecard


Darren Stevens
Stevens' previous best bowling figures were 4-36 against Yorkshire in 2006

Darren Stevens took his first five-wicket haul to put Kent in charge against Essex on day one of the clash between last season's relegated sides.

Stevens finished with 5-14, including England pair Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara, as Essex closed at Chelmsford on 49-6 in reply to Kent's 247.

Sam Northeast had earlier led the Kent fightback after David Masters (3-51) had helped reduce them to 140-7.

Northeast hit 112, including two sixes and 10 fours, to frustrate Essex.

It was nevertheless a day to remember for 17-year-old Essex left-arm paceman Reece Topley, son of Don, who marked his Championship debut by bowling Joe Denly with his third delivery on the way to taking 2-68, and deflected a straight drive from Northeast on to the stumps to run out James Tredwell.


BBC Radio 5 live's Kevin Howells offers his insight:
"Seventeen-year-old Reece Topley already has something in his armoury which will serve him well. A top-notch yorker which got him two wickets in the Kent first innings and it could have been more. He says he's been working on it all winter.

"But the bowling performance which stood out most by the close was that of Darren Stevens. He doesn't appear to be the natural choice of strike bowler, although a competitor who always has a hint of turning a game.

"However the reason captain Rob Key called upon him was to frustrate the Essex top order by depriving them of any pace to get going. It worked very well.

"There was plenty there for the bowlers although it's not a 49-6 pitch.

"Also interesting was the swing early on. Plenty of talk about the Tiflex ball being used in the second division. Much improved we're hearing. Certainly from Darren Stevens - mind you he would.

"Sam Northeast gritted out a century which is very encouraging for the 21-year-old.

"Finally great weather - the competition deserves that lucky break."

BBC Radio Kent's Matt Cole reflects on the day one action:
"An enthralling day's play, with Kent getting better as the day went on. All the mutterings were that it might have been a good toss for Essex to lose when Kent elected to bat and started to crumble as the ball swung and nipped about early on.

"Then up stepped Sam Northeast. So many times last season he made it into the teens and twenties without taking an innings on to a big score. Today he proved he's got the concentration to do just that.

"It was a mature innings, he rode his luck and batted responsibly, and latterly explosively, to get to three figures.

"We thought he'd be man of the day, we were wrong. Skipper Rob Key's decision to have Darren Stevens opening the bowling raised some eyebrows, but they were at roof level by the time he'd bamboozled his victims to his first ever five wicket haul in an innings."

BBC Essex's Dick Davies gives his thoughts:
"Essex failed to capitalise on a strong position having reduced Kent at 140-7.

"They let kent off the hook with wayward bowling in the afternoon.

"Essex collapsed to 49-6 and have a job to avoid the follow-on."



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