“Hopefully I’ll get the job full time for next year. I’ve made it quite clear to take it on if that’s what the club wants, but if it is someone else I’ll be the first in line to help the new man take things forward.”

KENT CAPTAIN JACK LEANING

KENT kept their place in Division One after a day of unmitigated, stomach-churning drama at Canterbury. They drew their game with Lancashire and then faced an 80-minute wait for news from Trent Bridge, where a Middlesex win would have been enough to relegate them.

With the visitors trailing on first innings by 167 runs, Lancashire’s Luke Wells made 117 and Keaton Jennings 74 before a collapse from 194-0 to 258-7. But thereafter Josh Bohannon and Tom Bailey batted them to safety, making 68 not out and 78 respectively. Kent’s failure to finish off their opponents left their supporters sweating on news from Nottingham.

Fans and staff, at least those who could stand to watch, duly crowded round laptops and iPhones. Kent captain Jack Leaning prowled the balcony, and outgoing director of cricket Paul Downton stood grinning with the sheer tension of it all. Every run was cheered, every wicket felt like a depth charge until there was a roar when Nottinghamshire hit the winning runs.

“Relief is the overwhelming emotion I suppose,” said Kent head coach Matt Walker. “It’s hard to be too jubilant. We’ve just hung on and stayed up, but from where we were a few weeks ago, that was the job to do and we’ve done it. We’ve got Division One Cricket next year.”

With seven bonus points in the bank Kent knew they’d be safe if they could match Middlesex’s result, but for the first hour their seamers made no impact. Resuming on 126 without loss, Lancashire had levelled the scores within 13 overs. Wells carved Leaning through point for the four that racked up his 24th firstclass hundred but eventually fell when he edged the same bowler to Daniel Bell-Drummond at slip.

Lancashire then lost five wickets for 32 runs. Jen-nings went in almost identical fashion in Leaning’s next over and George Bell flashed at Aron Nijjar and was caught behind. George Balderson drove Leaning to point and Nijjar had Steven Croft caught by Bell-Drummond, leaving Lancashire on 226-5 at lunch.

Got him! Jack Leaning takes the wicket of centurion Josh Bohannon in Lancashire’s first innings

PICTURES: Alamy

Matthew Hurst, whose first-innings 76 not out followed his debut half-century the previous week, was out for a duck after the resumption, skying Yuzvendra Chahal to mid-off.

Just as news of Middlesex’s gutsy declaration filtered through, Chahal switched to the Pavilion End and duped Tom Hartley into a rash shot that was taken at mid-off. The lead was still under 100 but Bohannon and Bailey batted through till tea, by which time Lancashire were virtually safe.

Both batters were dropped before Bailey was dismissed after passing his highest first-class score, and the players were soon shaking hands and heading off to watch the nearest available stream.

It wasn’t an easy watch, but after 90 minutes of soaring blood-pressure and heart palpitations deliverance came and a wave of relief engulfed the St. Lawrence.

Leaning said: “If it was cut and dry and the best teams always won and the worst teams always lost no one would watch it. Championship cricket has really showed that this week. There’s been results you wouldn’t expect and results that have caused a great deal of drama.”

#Relieved #Kent #saved #drop #agonising #wait

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