Kent batsman Sam Northeast has enjoyed a week to remember. He scored his maiden one-day century on Wednesday night, helping the county to a historic victory over Sussex, and tomorrowevening he will captain the Club against New Zealand.
The 23-year-old scored 115 and shared in a match-winning stand of 159, for the third wicket with Darren Stevens, which helped shape the famous victory.
The official Club website caught up with Sam earlier today to get his thoughts on all of the latest happenings at the Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence.
Sam, thanks for talking to us. Looking back now, what do you recollect of the Sussex game?
Well it was a remarkable day of cricket! It was one of those high scoring matches that people won't forget in a hurry. It was a great game to be involved in and to win it was just incredible. Stevo played a blinder of a knock and it was a joy to be there with him. It was a real special night to be involved.
Was there pressure on you, going out to bat, knowing you had so many to chase down?
Well it was just one of those games where we had to give it our all. We knew that – so I wouldn't say the pressure was on us as nobody expected us to chase that score down. It was quite nice to just give it our all and to go all the way through to victory. Stevo's brutal innings allowed me to be a bit more conservative and our partnership went really well. We complemented each other and enjoyed it. He scored a hundred off 44 balls so that was a proper knock. I was batting at the other end and hitting deliveries for ones and twos while Stevo was sending them ten rows back! He never really mis-hit one all innings. He was striking it so cleanly but he can do that. It was a pleasure to watch one of the great innings from the other end.
Has it fully sunk in yet?
No, probably not. I'm just delighted we were able to win the game. If Stevo and I had got hundreds, but the team had not won the game then it wouldn't have meant anything. Winning in the manner we did has given everyone lots of confidence. I was delighted to get that first hundred out of the way (in limited overs cricket) and I hope that there are many more to come.
How was the pitch?
Well it always comes on a little better under the lights at Canterbury. It tends to skid on. It was a proper good pitch and the short boundary on one side certainly helped. With bowlers now having five in the circle, it can be quite tough for them and if someone gets on a run then it's really difficult to stop them, as we saw on Wednesday.
Did James Tredwell's performance for England inspire the team?
I guess it might have done. I would say its hard to pinpoint where a performance like that comes from but maybe seeing England win did play a part in our victory.
How did you celebrate the win on Thursday?
We were in the changing room for a good while after, just having a few beers as a group. I think you need to celebrate wins like that. As players, you want to stay together and relive it for as long as possible. We have got a new joker of the team in Mitch Claydon and we had some great celebrations. It was a real pleasure to be a part of it.
Looking ahead, are youproud to becaptaining the side against New Zealand?
Definitely. It's something I really enjoy so I'm pleased to be captaining the side again. I did it against South Africa last year and found it good fun. It's something I am looking forward to, for sure. It will be amazing if we can get a win but hopefully we will have a good, fun night in front of lots of Kent supporters.
What extra responsibility is there, for you, leading the side?
Well… I'm effectively thinking for 11 players, rather than just the one individual. As a captain, you try to do what's best for every individual and are focused on the whole team. I've only got the one game doing it so its hard to set a tone and I will just look to do what's best on the night and manage everyone effectively. You use a lot more mental energy as captain. I'm not going to go with any real outrageous plans but will look to make the most of it and look after people individually.
Did the crowd lift you on Wednesday night against Sussex?
Yes, massively. When Stevo and I were going really well, they got right behind us. Then, when Stevo got out, I could hear a pin drop so that was a bit nervy. I always find it very special at Canterbury. The place has got a real atmosphere about it and you can really hear the crowd when they get fully behind you. I hope it takes shape again on Saturday and that we can have a similar amount of noise because it does help.
How's Mitch Claydon fitting in?
Really well. He's obviously a good bowler and he's a good lad as well. He hasslotted into the group and I hope that we can have him for as long as possible. He is a proven wicket-taker so hopefully we can keep him at Canterbury.
Who are your players to watch in the Friends Life t20?
I wouldn't really want to pinpoint individuals, but we've got a good blend of experience and youth. We've got several youngsters who have the ability to come in and do incredibly well. There are a whole bunch of guys wanting to make a name for themselves. We are going with a younger team against New Zealand and that will allow people to put their hands up and show what the team could be like in maybe two or three years time.
Finally, what are your thoughts on the Friends Life t20?
Well I'm just looking to help try and win as many matches as possible for Kent, like the rest of the boys. If one of the batters can play a match winning innings or one of the bowlers can tighten the screw with the ball then it can make a big difference. The aim is to be successful in the competition and we've certainly got the players to do that.