When Kent annihilated Derbyshire by 169 runs for a win inside three days to warm the hearts of the St Lawrence faithful on a viciously cold day I thought we might rue the breaking up of the season into blocks.
We risked losing our precious four-day Championship momentum and also, with the Royal London One-Day Cup condensed into three weeks and qualification extraordinarily reduced from eight to six teams, our hopes of a return to Lord’s for a final to end our historic jinx might be over before it had really got started… and so it proved.
First the good news, the Derbyshire rout was complete. The first innings score of 259 only looked about par, but with Stevens leading the carnage when the visitors took guard with 6-57 a 100 lead in a low scoring game meant only one thing.
Mr. Stevens then carried on his stupendous form with a fine 90 and a crucial partnership with Rouse. Unfortunately for the young keeper he was left stranded on 95*.
308 all out and a lead of 408 was always going to be too much for the visitors and on day three Harris (4-56), that man again Stevens (3-63) and Coles (2-57) did the honours.
Wilson’s gutsy 97 for Derbyshire made it a bit of a contest but the real task for the hardy souls including the Nackington Road grumblers was fending off the chance of frostbite.
One fan went to extremes donning three Kent shirts, one from each format – a dream customer in the club shop!
One wonderful addition to their range was a natty Kent 1870 bobble hat for keeping warm. The bobble is humongous (very trendy), but given how many were being worn by the end of the game, an inspired marketing decision until the weather relents…
During the Derbyshire game, the Members’ forum provided those present with an excellent insight into the position of Kent re the proposed T20 Franchise competition set for 2020.
Kent County Cricket Club now have an official new double act. The always eloquent CEO Jamie Clifford was on great form, but now has an equally open and charming partner in crime, new Chairman Simon Philip.
They faced a room full of understandably deeply concerned Kent Members and reassured them of Kent’s position on the fundamentally controversial changes to the domestic game, some of the shenanigans behind the scenes and the less than clear path going forward… If you get the chance, pop along to the next one.
Back to events on the pitch and once we’d all thawed out we rocked up for the Hampshire home game in the Royal London Cup. On another cold and grey day, the sparse crowd endured a rather comprehensive loss.
Kent were 40 runs and a bowler light and the visitors trundled home. With little wiggle room for manoeuver to qualify they then rattled up a whopping 352-6 in 50 overs at Taunton.
I listened in silent horror to the radio commentary via the internet as Somerset chased it down with 15 balls to spare…
Unfortunately, a theme was developing. Prior to the tournament, I had bemoaned the fact that Billings, one of our key explosive middle-order batsmen would miss the group stage whilst in the IPL.
In the end Kent scored over 250 in five of the first seven games and lost all five. The problems were in the bowling department.
It was great to see Billings back at The Oval in a rain affected game and the six Coles put onto the middle tier of the OSC stand was memorable, but defeat confirmed our premature exit.
That evening I ended up drowning my sorrows in Canterbury, still wearing my old van Jaarsveld Kent shirt I was introduced to Darren Stevens and was so star struck all I could mumble was something about his rather harsh lbw earlier in the day.
I wish I’d known what he was going to do next, a record 147 Blitzkrieg for Kent, 14 sixes and yet another painful defeat, this time at Swansea.
The Grumblers were at least back in form, losing one-day games from promising positions on freezing afternoons is just their cup of tea, but it must be mentioned that one member has a “magic flask”, every time he opens for a refill he captures a crucial wicket for Kent!