Brant guides the Eagles to victory
Zimbabwean seamer Scott Brant starred as Essex completed a comprehensive eight-wicket win over Kent.
Hyaluronic acid could be mistaken for something on sale at last week's Glastonbury Festival but the Essex skipper Ronnie Irani swears by it. An amino acid taken from the red comb of a cockerel, it helped Irani on to the park at the start of the season and eased his arthritic right knee to help him take the man-of-the-match honours in last night's convincing win over Kent.
The Essex captain endured a five-week stint of injections in the spring and expects to undergo another course to get him through the season but on the evidence of his match-winning 64 not out at The Mote the treatment is well worth the discomfort.
The 32-year-old former England all-rounder can no longer bowl and his fielding is not the sprightliest, but his straight bat and wise head proved the difference between these neighbouring counties.
Responding to Kent's below-par 125 all out, Irani recovered from the first-over loss of his batting anchor Andy Flower to feature in a second-wicket stand worth 87 in 10 overs with Graham Napier.
The short and portly Napier walked across his stumps to go leg-before for 38 but Irani stuck it out for 52 balls and hit nine fours to steer his side to their second qualifying win in a row with 27 balls to spare.
Kent clearly put as much thought into their batting tactics as they had into the nicknames on the back of their new baseball-style cup shirts. By adding Y to each name the hosts came up with dull pseudonyms such as Trotty (Ben Trott) and Ammy (Amjad Khan).
The same lack of forethought littered Kent's disappointing innings as they committed Twenty20's cardinal sin of failing to bat out their overs.
As in their first match against Middlesex, the acting captain Andrew Symonds was dropped early on. This time it was a leading edge that evaded the grasp of Andy Clarke at cover but the mistake cost 10 runs instead of the 101 Middlesex conceded on Friday.
Playing across a Scott Brant in-ducker, Symonds went leg-before. Soon afterwards Kent's other high-profile shot-maker, Shahid Afridi, skied to mid-wicket after top-scoring with 25 from 14 balls, to set Brant on his way to four for 20.
With their two pinch-hitters back in the pavilion within six overs Kent's inexperienced middle order faced the stick-or-twist quandary and at each turn of the cards they took the wrong option.
Walker raised his back foot when driving to give James Foster an easy stumping, Alex Loudon scooped to mid-wicket, Joe Denley lost his off-stump cutting and Niall O'Brien his leg stump as six wickets went for 35 runs.
Source - guardian.co.uk