County Championship: Kent on top against Essex after Darren Stevens century

By Stephan ShemiltBBC Sport at Canterbury
Darren Stevens
Darren Stevens scored 26 runs off nine balls at one stage of his century
Specsavers County Championship Division Two, Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, day two
Kent 389-7: Stevens 107*, Denly 74, Northeast 56; Dixon 4-89
Essex: Yet to bat
Kent 4pts, Essex 2pts

Darren Stevens' unbeaten 107 gave Kent the upper hand on day two of their game against Division Two champions Essex.

After no play was possible on the first day, Stevens led Kent to 389-7 after Essex's decision to bowl first.

They had slipped to 208-6 with Essex seamer Matt Dixon taking two wickets in two balls with figures of 4-89.

But Stevens shared a partnership of 108 with James Tredwell (39) and completed his 31st first-class ton in the final over of the day at Canterbury.

It was an unflappable display from the 40-year-old, who was patient at first but then showed all his attacking prowess, at one point adding 26 in the space of nine balls faced.

When Tredwell was lbw to Dixon, Stevens added an unbroken 73 with Matt Coles, giving Kent four bonus points and leaving them only two short of guaranteeing second place.

The score at stumps was probably a fair reflection on the way Essex bowled - a one-paced attack short of a front-line spinner.

Joe Denly (74) and Sam Northeast (56) shared 109 for the third wicket, taking advantage as Essex often over-pitched.

Dixon, on his return to the first team, was the pick of the attack as he swung the ball at decent pace, removing Denly and Will Gidman in successive deliveries after Ravi Bopara trapped Sam Billings lbw.

The mini-collapse from 204-3 to 208-6 had Essex in the game, only for Stevens to take it away from them. But what is now a three-day match will be difficult for either side to win.