Skip to main content

Alex Blake: I enjoy the responsibility of batting at 7

Friday 31st July 2015

Men’s First Team

Alex Blake has carved out a reputation as Kent Spitfires' NatWest T20 Blast finisher. He spoke to Mark Pennell about his time with the county and his aspirations to play T20 around the world…

There is a certain irony in the fact that Alex Blake has waited nigh-on 18 years to make his biggest impact in a form of cricket that barely takes three hours to play.

Blake, now 26, first played cricket for Kent Under-11s a few months after his eighth birthday, but a prolonged learning curve and years with the county age group sides and Kent Cricket Academy are now reaping rewards.

An integral part of the Spitfires’ team that coasted into this year’s T20 Blast quarter-finals, Blake, especially with high-quality knocks on the road at The Ageas Bowl and Cheltenham College, has at last started to repay the faith the club have placed in him.

“I’ve always batted around the five to seven positions in Kent’s batting order and although I’ve shown glimpses of talent in the past, I’ve not sustained it or managed to get us over the line to win games,” he said.

“I’ve taken more responsibility on my shoulders these past two seasons and that is now paying dividends. I’m playing to my strengths now, choosing better options and in the knowledge that I’m capable of winning games from any point. Every time I succeed in that, I take even more confidence from it.

“I’m happy after all these years to have found this role as a finisher type batter. ‘Stevo’ did it for a number of years, and he’s still a top player, but I’m pleased to step up to the plate when he doesn’t come off.”

Blake, who has now made more than 60 short-form appearances, added: “I’m 26 now, which in terms of T20 is getting on a bit, so it was high time for me to step up and show my worth.

“I’m hoping I can reproduce that form in the longer Royal London One-Day Cup format and then push for a place in the four-day side off the back of that. It’s just a case of me working out each role in each format for myself.

“The style of positive cricket that England played in their one-day series with New Zealand will, I think, filter down into domestic 50-over games and that can only help me. Teams are going harder now, seeing it as an extension of T20 and looking to score 400-plus. That can benefit me as long as I can carry T20 form into the longer games.

“I didn’t really get the transfer from T20 to 50-overs last year, but I think it will be smoother for me this time around because I now have this established role, even if I do go up the order a little bit.”

Recalling his early years with the club, Blake added: “I was recommended to Kent by a friend’s dad from Bromley Town and I played my first game for the Under-11s at Hartley against Essex. I think I was still eight at the time.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the age groups and couldn’t get enough of the game. I played up a year from the Under-10s onwards and captained at every age group too, so I’ve a lot to thank the likes of Simon Willis, Chris Stone, Phil Relf and Steve Salisbury for.

“Then, as a 13-year-old, I was the youngest player on the first intake of the Kent Academy under Paul Farbrace. I spent five years on the Academy and apart from being a great opportunity it really did help me to understand my game, because back then I was a bowler who batted a bit. It maybe took me longer than most to win through, but I’d like to think I’m making bigger strides now.

“The success of the Academy is evident with the first team and the likes of Northeast, Bell-Drummond, Billings and Denly, all homegrown products like me.”

Though he gave up Sunday morning football in his youth to fit in his Kent Academy winter training, Blake usually turns out during the close season for Bromley & Beckenham Hockey Club’s third team. This winter however, he has his sights set on warmer climes.

Blake added: “I don’t have an agent myself, but I’ve been speaking to the guy who represents Mitch Claydon about the chances of me playing T20 overseas.

“After my T20 knock up at Cheltenham, Keysy texted me to say I should consider T20 in the winter, so it’s something I will look into. I’ve spoken to Stevo about his experiences in New Zealand and Bangladesh, and I know other players who have been there too.

“T20’s a young man’s game and a short career anyway, so I will try to put my name out there and see if anything comes back.”

Next up in the Royal London One-Day Cup is the visit of Sussex Sharks on Sunday (10.30am start) at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence.

Click here to buy tickets