Stalemate at Chelmsford
Bopara's fitness problems prove main talking point on final day
Last Updated: 12/05/12 6:12pm
Essex and Kent's LV= County Championship Division Two clash petered out into a tame draw and it was the fitness of Ravi Bopara that ended up stealing most of the headlines at Chelmsford.
Bopara, who was pencilled in to bat at number six for England in the first Test against the West Indies, suffered a quad injury bowling on Friday and emerged to bat at number eight with a runner on Saturday.
He was run out for 19 in bizarre fashion, attempting to complete a single himself, and England must now give serious consideration to middle-order alternatives.
The game itself finished with Kent 136 ahead on 92-2 in their second innings having bowled Essex out for 181.
Essex had resumed on 94-2 in reply to Kent's 225 and lost opener Billy Godleman without adding to their total as Mark Pettini (92) provided the mainstay of their innings.
Pettini got within eight runs of his first Championship century for three years only to fall to young Kent paceman Ivan Thomas who finished with 2-29.
Alviro Pietersen (20) and Bopara were the only other Essex batsmen to reach double figures on the day but, having dimissed the hosts, Kent skipper Robert Key was content to use the remainder of the match as little more than net practice with no prospect of a result.
He reached the close unbeaten on 40, though Scott Newman (24) and Ben Harmison (one) both lost their wickets before the end - Kent collected seven points for their endeavours, with Essex taking six.
Darren Stevens and Geraint Jones combined to take Kent to 225 at the end of their first innings on day three at Chelmsford.
Stevens and Jones came together on the first day with half their side back in the pavilion and only nine runs on the board, but managed to add just seven runs to their side's score of 17-5 on a rain-hit day two.
The pair set about their task with gusto on Friday however adding 194 in 63 overs with Stevens contributing 119 from 170 balls including 16 fours and a six.
He eventually fell on 119 slicing to point off left-arm seamer Charl Willoughby (5-70) while Jones, the only other batsman to reach double figures, was last man out after reaching 88.
In reply, England opener Alastair Cook failed again with the bat, making just a single before he fell lbw to Mark Davies to add to the nine and five in his first Championship appearance of the season against Glamorgan last week.
Tom Westley departed next ball when Davies had him caught behind but Mark Pettini (61 not out) joined opener Billy Godleman (27 not out) and the pair took their side to 94-2 by the close.
Just 10 deliveries were possible at Chelmsford on the second day of Essex's clash with Kent.
Kent advanced from their overnight 17-5 to 24-5. Heavy overnight rain had left the outfield extremely wet, while there were also concerns with the bowlers' run-ups and that combination delayed a restart until 2.45pm.
With the floodlights on, Kent resumed in gloomy conditions, Geraint Jones (7no) and Darren Stevens (8no) added seven runs, including a boundary for Stevens off Charl Willoughby, who had taken four wickets in nine balls the previous day.
But Stevens' four was the final action as rain started to fall once more and the umpires took the players off the field.
An early tea was taken in the hope there would be an improvement in the weather, but play was formally called off at 4.25pm.
Essex took to the field with their overseas signing Alviro Petersen who had turned an ankle in the warm-up before the resumption of play. The South African Test opener is expected to be fully fit for the remaining two days of the match.
Essex seamer Charl Willoughby took four wickets as Kent were reduced to 17-5 in the 9.4 overs possible on the opening day at Chelmsford.
Morning rain cleared enabling play to get under way under floodlights at 2.45pm, Essex skipper James Foster opting to bowl in helpful conditions.
David Masters (1-9), playing against one of his former counties, had Kent opener Scott Newman (0) caught behind with the second ball of the match.
Thereafter it was the Willoughby (4-8) show as the South African left-armer - who joined from Somerset in the winter - accounted for Ben Harmison, Rob Key, Mike Powell and Brendan Nash in the space of nine deliveries for the cost of one run.
Harmison (2) and Key (1) both went lbw, Powell (0) edged his second ball through to wicketkeeper Foster and Nash (6) was bowled.
Kent's sixth-wicket pair Geraint Jones (4no) and Darren Stevens (4no) came together at 9-5 and managed to take their side into double figures before bad light forced the players off the field after 45 minutes of action. Rain arrived soon after to end any hopes of a resumption and play was called off at 4.35pm.