Kent 125 for 6 (Bell-Drummond 55, Cook 3-25) v Essex
Three-wicket bursts by Sam Cook and Mohammad Amir helped Specsavers County Championship leaders Essex to command a rain-interrupted opening day to the 168th Canterbury Cricket Week encounter with Kent. By stumps at the Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence Kent had limped to 125 for 6 after 53 overs with Cook and Amir sharing the spoils for the visitors.
Chelmsford-born paceman Cook wrecked Kent's top-order during a stint of 3 for 7, while Amir hit his straps later in the day after the hosts had mounted a partial recovery courtesy of a three-hour innings of 55 by No. 3 Daniel Bell-Drummond and a gritty 35 from keeper-batsman Ollie Robinson.
Batting first after an uncontested toss, Kent lost Zak Crawley in only the fourth over of the day. Driving down the wrong line at a full delivery from Amir, Crawley was bowled through the gate, losing his off stump to make it 7 for 1.
With heavy cloud cover and the floodlights on from the third over, Amir and Jamie Porter continued to set the Kent batsmen a stern examination until rain stopped play at 11.38am with Kent on 11 for 1 after only 9.1 overs. With the covers on and pools of rainwater quickly forming on the outfield, the players went in for lunch as umpires Ian Blackwell and Paul Baldwin eventually deemed that play could re-start at 3.29pm with the loss of 43 overs in the day.
Seven overs after the resumption Kent opener Sean Dickson shuffled half-forward to a Cook in-ducker to be hit on the knee roll and depart lbw for 8 then, in his next over, Cook snared the returning Kent skipper Sam Billings in near identical fashion, leg before for 1 on his season's first-class debut.
Cook struck again during his superb mid-afternoon stint by removing Heino Kuhn for 6 - Kent's fourth batsman to depart for a single-figure score. The South African's late decision to run a Cook off-cutter down to third man backfired when he chopped the ball on to off stump.
Kent rebuilt steadily either side of tea through Robinson and Bell-Drummond, who added 68 for the fifth wicket with Bell-Drummond extending a fine run of red-ball form that has led to him scoring either a fifty or a century in each of his last five, four-day appearances.
Bell-Drummond, Kent's leading championship run-getter for the season, notched his fifth half-century of the campaign from 99 balls and with seven fours, while Robinson, who contributed 35 in 98 minutes, batting with maturity way beyond his 20 years to help take Kent into three figures shortly before 6pm.
With six overs left in the day, Amir returned for a second spell to finally dislodge Bell-Drummond, who chopped on for a painstaking 55 with seven fours after aiming a late cut to a low-bouncing delivery. In his next over the Pakistan left-armer swung one in through the air to pluck out Robinson's off pole, leaving Darren Stevens, on his 300th first-class appearance, and No. 8 Ollie Rayner, to see Kent through to stumps without further alarm.