On a day of high drama and 15 wickets, the inspirational bowling of Essex's little-and-large pairing of Andy Carter and Matthew Walker proved the undoing of Kent.
Having pretty much controlled the opening two days at Canterbury, Kent's apathetic fielding display in the first session of the third day, which allowed the visitors to wriggle free from the follow-on by eight runs, was followed by a batting capitulation. The home side succumbed for 135 in a shade over three hours.
Carter, a willowy, 6ft 6in right-arm seamer, nipped the ball around to finish with five for 40 in his second Championship start since joining on loan from Nottinghamshire this month.
Yet it was the diminutive former Kent batsman Walker who cut the unlikeliest of bowling heroes against his former county. Nicknamed Pumbaa, in tribute to the animated warthog character in The Lion King, Walker stretched his robust 5ft 6in figure to its limits to take career-best figures of three for 35. At one point the Essex supporters took to chanting "Walker is a strike bowler, Walker is a strike bowler" as their improbable hero struck and Kent's middle order capitulated.
In only his seventh first-class over since moving to Essex two seasons ago, Walker trapped Martin van Jaarsveld leg before as he aimed to on-drive a military-medium off-cutter.
Having helped mount a partial recovery, Malinga Bandara then had his off stump pegged back by another grubber from Walker, who then accounted for the top-scoring James Tredwell, thanks to a catch at mid-on. At the other end Carter, who stops in his stride after trotting up to the popping crease, had both openers caught behind and then returned to account for Geraint Jones and Darren Stevens in successive balls as Kent set a modest target of 277.
By stumps Essex had reached 48 for the loss of their first-innings top- scorer, Mark Pettini, who edged an airy drive to slip.
In the West Country, the Cape Province seamer Alfonso Thomas was the toast of Taunton after his five for 40 inspired Somerset's 24-point and 10-wicket win over one of their Division One title rivals, Nottinghamshire. Following on 178 in arrears after Somerset's mammoth 517 – with six for 101 from Charl Willoughby doing the first-innings damage – the visitors folded for 190 as Thomas took over.
Somerset moved third, 12 points behind Nottinghamshire and 13 shy of the leaders, Yorkshire.
In Division Two, promotion-chasing Sussex took a sixth win, beating Leicestershire by an innings at Grace Road. The hosts, 175 in arrears on second innings, were skittled for 156 within 44 overs thanks to a season-best six for 48 by the 32-year-old Bajan overseas all-rounder Corey Collymore.
At Lord's, a defiant 53 by Chris Tremlett held up Middlesex for 77 minutes before Neil Dexter's side wrapped up their first innings win over Surrey since 1995, which was also their first maximum-points haul in 28 matches.
Northamptonshire took 19 points from a four-wicket win over Worcestershire with a day to spare at New Road. Set 222 to win, the visitors eased home inside 58 overs courtesy of Alex Wakely's 68 with a dozen boundaries.Reuse content