Willoughby to the fore on rain-hit day
Only 9.4 overs were possible on the first day at Chelmsford but that proved enough time for Charl Willoughby to produce a devastating spell that left Kent in deep trouble in their LV= County Championship Division Two clash with Essex.
The 37-year-old seamer took 4-8 in just 4.4 overs as he quickly made up for lost time after rain had delayed the start until 2.45 pm.
Play was halted again soon after, yet Kent were still struggling on 17 for five.
With the floodlights on, it was initially David Masters, playing against one of his former counties, who put Kent on the back foot by striking with his second ball of the match, Scott Newman edging to wicketkeeper James Foster.
It was a dismissal that paved the way for Willoughby, recruited from Somerset during the winter, to wreak havoc and fully justify Foster’s decision to bowl.
Making the ball seam appreciably, the left-armer caused the top-order all sorts of problems.
Ben Harmison was trapped leg before prior to Willoughby claiming another two wickets in his next set of six.
Kent captain Rob Key was undone by a beauty that shaped back and struck the pad before Michael Powell edged to Foster.
Brendan Nash saw his off-stump uprooted as the visitors were reduced to nine for five; at that point, Willoughby had claimed four wickets in nine deliveries at a cost of just one run.
Geraint Jones brought some respite by driving his first delivery for four and taking Kent into double figures, while Darren Stevens also found the boundary.
Kent’s suffering was spared initially when bad light forced the players off the field, after which the rain arrived with a vengeance and play was called off for the day at 4.35pm.