County Championship: Kent home defeat by Northants leaves Essex close to promotion

Hardus Viljeon
Kent's Hardus Viljoen made his South Africa Test debut against England at Johannesburg in January
Specsavers County Championship Division Two, Beckenham, day three
Kent 230 & 184: Viljoen 63, Stevens 44; Kleinveldt 5-53
Northamptonshire 384: Duckett 208 & 31-0
Northamptonshire (23 pts) beat Kent (4 pts) by 10 wickets

Kent's fading hopes of promotion from Division Two are all but over as they suffered a three-day defeat at home to Northamptonshire at Beckenham.

The hosts were already up against it after conceding a 154-run first-innings lead, before being reduced to 15-4 by Rory Kleinveldt (5-53) on day two.

Led by nightwatchman Hardus Viljoen (63), Kent's lower order put up a good effort in extending the score to 184.

But Northants took just 27 balls to reach their target on 31-0.

Openers Ben Duckett and Rob Newton were unparted in completing Northants' third win of the season.

Kleinveldt took just one wicket on the final morning, ending up with the 16th five-wicket haul of his first-class career and his first this summer for Northants.

Darren Stevens (44) and Sam Billings, who only arrived back in Kent in the early hours after driving from Manchester overnight having been 12th man for England's T20 international against Pakistan, also weighed in with runs down the order to see the game into the afternoon session.

The impact of Kent's defeat on promotion race

Ben Duckett's first-innings double century helped to earn 23 points to ensure Northants will not finish bottom of Division Two, lifting them up to fourth.

But the main impact was at the top end of the table, where it leaves leaders Essex now needing just six points from two matches to be sure of the one promotion place.

Essex, on 219 points, are 20 clear of second-placed Kent, who have one game left - against Essex at Canterbury, starting on 20 September - and can get a maximum of 223.

Third-placed Sussex, who are on 176 with two games left, can get to 224 but it still leaves Essex in prime position to wrap up promotion at home to Glamorgan at Chelmsford next week.

Duckett's knock 'incredible' - Viljoen

Hardus Viljoen told BBC Radio Kent:

"Whatever the outcome in the final match against Essex, maybe it wasn't meant to be for us this year. We'll see what happens next summer.

"I'd never write us off as a team. This was one of those games when we weren't at our best and the overcast conditions on the first morning played a massive role in the outcome of the game.

"If you take Ben Duckett's incredible knock out of the game we might have shaped up quite well. Without his 208 we'd have bowled them out for 170-odd."

Northamptonshire captain Alex Wakely told BBC Radio Northampton:

"That was one of our most complete performances of the season. Earlier in the summer I felt we were playing bit-part cricket at times. In the last couple of games, things have gone perfectly.

"Bowling first we were brilliant and didn't give them much at all, but I must talk again about that innings by Ben Duckett. It was special.

"Sam Billings asked me if Kent had bowled badly to him or was Ben that good? I answered, he was that good. I don't think there is anyone batting better than him in the country right now. I don't think it will be very long before we see him in an England shirt."