Bob Willis Trophy: Kent keep final hopes alive with victory over Surrey

Darren Stevens
Darren Stevens fell one wicket short of a five-for in three successive games
Bob Willis Trophy, Kia Oval (day four):
Kent 342 & 127: Cox 32; Clarke 5-20, S Curran 4-39
Surrey 278 & 174: Foakes 57, Evans 42; Stevens 4-41, Milnes 4-57
Kent (22 pts) beat Surrey (5 pts) by 17 runs

Kent stayed in contention for a place in the Bob Willis Trophy final after a 17-run win over Surrey at the Kia Oval.

Veteran Darren Stevens took four wickets to reduce Surrey to 77-5, chasing a target of 192 for victory.

But Ben Foakes followed his first-innings 118 with a 107-ball half-century before being caught behind off Matt Milnes for 57.

It left Surrey on 164-9 and only 10 more were added before Milnes (4-57) bowled Matt Dunn to win the match.

The 22 points earned by Kent as they completed Surrey's fourth straight defeat lifted them to second in the South Group, six behind leaders Essex.

However, to reach the final they must not only leapfrog Essex, but also make up 12 points on Somerset and seven on Derbyshire, with the two group winners with the best records reaching the final.

No play was possible until 13:00 BST and having resumed on 118-9, Kent then added nine runs in four overs before Sam Curran (4-39) had Nathan Gilchrist caught at slip to end their second innings.

But Surrey's run chase began badly with Stevens quickly removing Scott Borthwick, Jamie Smith and Will Jacks.

Ben Foakes
Ben Foakes scored 175 runs in the game to boost his chances of an England tour place this winter

Harry Podmore produced a beauty to have Mark Stoneman caught at first slip, before Laurie Evans and Foakes halted the slide with a stand of 57.

But Stevens, who is in talks about a new contract with Kent at the age of 44, ended it.

Evans, on 42, gave him a return catch as Stevens returned figures of 4-41.

Milnes then bowled Curran and Rikki Clarke before Foakes was eventually strangled down the leg side off Podmore.

Dunn did his best to push Surrey towards their target, but had no answer to another superb Milnes delivery in a tense finish to the game.

Kent head coach Matt Walker told BBC Radio Kent:

"Darren Stevens keeps performing. He's an experienced head and is still a very fine bowler. He wants to carry on for a few more years yet,

"When you are defending just under 200 you have to have a good start with the ball and who better than Stevo to get it for us? He's just remarkable. He also has the skill to do that with the new ball.

"But all the bowlers deserve credit, whether they were taking wickets themselves or helping to build pressure for others. We had to show real dog.

"Harry Podmore is getting back to his best now, and Matt Milnes is constantly improving. He's a great athlete with a great engine, and he's got a great future."

Kent all-rounder Darren Stevens:

"The body is good and I'm feeling great so, touch wood, I reckon I am absolutely fine to go again for another season next year. The club has sent me a contract for 2021 and hopefully I'll sign that tomorrow.

"That was a hell of a win for us and we bowled well as a unit to get the early wickets we needed, and that was the key for us.

"Ben Foakes played brilliantly and showed his class again - in the end it was unlucky for him that he got a touch to a legside ball. It was lucky for us but we'll take it."

Surrey director of cricket Alec Stewart told BBC Radio London:

"That's our fourth defeat in four Willis Trophy matches and yes, we have a good number of England players unavailable and yes, we've also got injuries to other players. But we still have a good enough team out there, or should have, to win that game.

"Not to chase down 190 on a good surface is unacceptable. Ben Foakes showed everyone else how to bat. He just lined up every ball he faced and worked out whether to defend it or score from it.

"Other people needed to look at Foakes and see what he did. Other players in that team are good enough to do it but they also need to look at themselves. We also have to be honest with ourselves, otherwise we won't learn and improve.

"I can just about accept losing to Essex in these games. But we should have drawn against Middlesex and Hampshire, and we should have beaten Kent here. What we are producing on the field is nowhere near the levels we expect to see from ourselves."

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