Sussex Sharks v Kent Spitfires (Thu, 11am)

Sussex Sharks v Kent Spitfires (Thu, 11am)

Kent Spitfires begin the Royal London One-Day Cup season on Thursday with a trip to play Sussex Sharks at Hove.

Head coach Matt Walker has named a 14-man squad as the Spitfires begin the South Group stage on the road.

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The former Kent batsman says the squad is aiming to make a marked improvement after struggling in a high-scoring group stage last season.

Walker said: “2017 was a strange year for us in white-ball cricket. It was a season in which I felt we didn’t do anything particularly well.

“We never really put a full game together; when we batted well, our bowlers fell way short. Then, when we eventually started to produce half-decent performances with the ball, we didn’t really produce with the bat.

“We simply can’t allow that to happen again this year. We need to be tougher and need to show an ability out in the middle to adapt that little bit quicker than we did last season. What we talk about in the dressing room is to bowl to a plan, bowl to your field, create pressure on the opposition – they’re basic elements we must improve on.”

Paceman Mitch Claydon is in line to play his 100th List A match after recovering from a hand injury and all-rounder Darren Stevens will face a late fitness test on a groin niggle.

Left-arm spinner Imran Qayyum provides a specialist slow-bowling option after showing impressive form in white-ball cricket last season.

Spinner James Tredwell (shoulder) and seamer Grant Stewart (hamstring) are sidelined with injuries.

For Sussex, batsman Laurie Evans, all-rounder Delray Rawlins and paceman Abi Sakande are all in contention for their first first-team action of the season.

Kent Spitfires opening home One-Day match is against Glamorgan next Friday (25 May) at The Spitfire Ground before Somerset come to Canterbury on Tuesday 29 May (2pm).

There’s also a double-header at The County Ground, Beckenham against Surrey (Friday 1 June) and Gloucestershire (Sunday 3 June). All matches start at 11am unless stated with gates opening an hour before.

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Kent Spitfires squad: 6 Joe Denly (c), 23 Daniel Bell-Drummond, 58 Sean Dickson, 4 Heino Kuhn, 16 Zak Crawley, 10 Alex Blake, 3 Darren Stevens, 25 Calum Haggett, 12 Adam Rouse (wk), 24 Matt Henry, 1 Harry Podmore, 5 Ivan Thomas, 8 Mitch Claydon, 11 Imran Qayyum.

Sussex Sharks squad: 26 Ben Brown (c/wk), 21 Danny Briggs, 5 Michael Burgess, 32. Laurie Evans, 6 Harry Finch, 15 George Garton, 9 Delray Rawlins, 25 Ollie Robinson, 11 Abi Sakande, 28 Phil Salt, 97 Ishant Sharma, 31 Luke Wells, 96 David Wiese, 10 Luke Wright.