Obviously winning the 2nd XI County Championship was a very pleasing way to finish the season for our young players and was an outstanding achievement. We know we are not solely in a results environment at this level of the game, but the way the players built and maintained a level of consistent performance in this competition was a major factor in their success.
Fabian Cowdrey was the leading run scorer with 442 runs in 13 innings, hitting four fifties at an average of 44.20 while Ivan Thomas was the leading wicket taker with 20 wickets including a five wicket haul at an average of 16.80. In their first full season on the professional staff they both can be very proud of their progress in this format of the game. They were well supported by Daniel Bell-Drummond with 366 runs averaging 40.60, Alex Blake with 360 runs averaging 40.00, Simon Cook with 14 wickets averaging 31.71 and Callum Haggett with 11 wickets averaging 21.91.
Our One Day Trophy performances were far more inconsistent as a team than I expected given the sides we were able to field at the various stages of the competition. Skill execution in batting, bowling and fielding can be improved significantly on what we delivered this summer. By returning to the basics and devising definitive game plans this can be easily rectified. Daniel Bell-Drummond was the leading run scorer with 304 runs in 6 innings including a hundred at an average of 60.80 while Simon Cook was the leading wicket taker with 8 wickets at an average of 22.38.
In the end our Twenty20 campaign was unfortunately decided by weather but saying that we would have had to win both of our final group matches against Sussex at Maidstone to have qualified for Finals Day. After winning three and losing three of our eight matches we finished in second place in our group. We competed well in the matches we played but the margins for error are so small in this format of the game that we need to become outstanding in executing at those critical moments when the results of matches can be defined.
Throughout the season there were some wonderful individual and team highlights:
- Sam Northeast’s early season hundred of 166 in the four day match against Durham at Billericay.
- Fabian Cowdrey’s first second eleven five wicket haul in the three day match against Ireland “A” at Maidstone.
- Daniel Bell-Drummond’s match winning hundred of 121no in the One Day Trophy match against Hampshire at Maidstone.
- Marcus Stoinis’s two Championship hundreds of 103no against Middlesex at Canterbury and 107 against Gloucestershire at Beckenham.
- Sam Billing’s first second eleven One Day hundred of 180no and first second eleven Championship hundred of 152 in the same week in the matches against Gloucestershire at Beckenham.
- Ivan Thomas’s first second eleven five wicket haul in the Championship match against Gloucestershire at Beckenham.
- Two clinical match winning team performances against MCC Young Cricketers in the Twenty20 matches at Canterbury.
- An impressive and match winning opening partnership of 285 against Gloucestershire in the One Day Trophy match at Beckenham between Sam Billings 180no and Ben Harmison 104.
- The outstanding run chase and one wicket victory over Leicestershire at Grace Road in the County Championship Final that included a decisive and match winning eighth wicket partnership of 95 between Callum Haggett 62no and Simon Cook 35.
We were very fortunate to have some outstanding leadership around the group. Simon Cook, Sam Northeast, Adam Ball and Adam Riley performed the captaincy role admirably at various stages during the season. The contributions of the established first class players Simon Cook, Michael Powell and Charlie Shreck also helped to give our younger players an understanding on a daily basis of the required standards to be a success at the next level.
The majority of our young players did continue their improvement and new potential emerged. The positive way we finished the season showed the players that hard work and perseverance will be rewarded. I very much hope that this era of young players can use the experience of this season as the foundation to go on to leave their mark on first class competitions in the future.
It is always a sad time at the end of the season when we have to say goodbye to colleagues who are moving on. Two long serving players who will not be with us next year are Azhar Mahmood and Simon Cook. Both were passionate “Spitfires” who contributed greatly to Kent cricket over their time with us, they have been excellent role models for our next generation of players. Off the field our long serving 2nd XI scorer Cliff Booth has decided to retire after 20 years’ of service and unfortunately our energetic 2nd XI physiotherapist Max Ganderton has been offered new opportunities after 3 years with us. It has been a pleasure to have worked with them all and I would like to wish them well in the next phase of their lives.
To all those members and supporters who have shown an interest in 2nd XI cricket this season. We really do appreciate your support particularly those of you who have made the effort to attend matches as I know how much the players appreciate it. We hope you have enjoyed the style of cricket we have tried to play and been proud of some of the individual and team performances you have experienced.
Finally I would like to acknowledge and thank all my colleagues in the Cricket Department for their tireless efforts in helping to make this 2nd XI season such an enjoyable and successful one.
High Performance Director