All-rounder Kemp previews Hampshire Hawks T20 Cup tie

Saturday 20th June 2009

KENT Spitfires all-rounder Justin Kemp (pictured) feels the team will need to win ‘two or three“ more of their Twenty20 Cup group matches in order to qualify for the quarter-finals of the competition.

The Spitfires are currently third in the South Division, three points behind the leaders, Sussex Sharks, with four group matches left to play.

A bumper crowd is anticipated for tomorrow“s game against the Hampshire Hawks, at the Nevill Ground. It is the first ever T20 game at Tunbridge Wells and will also see the 100,000th spectator at a T20 match in Kent, since the competition started back in 2003, come through the gates.

South African Kemp, a key performer in Kent“s side, knows there is still work to do in order to reach the last eight of the T20: ‘I“m not 100 percent sure what we need to do but I think we will want to win two or three out of our remaining four. We are in a tough little group with some very good sides. I think two or three out of the four should do the trick.“

Teams from the South Division seem to have adapted well to the shortest form of the game – something Kemp pointed out when previewing the Hampshire game: ‘We saw last year all about the qualities in the South Division. Three out of the four at Finals Day came from our group.“

So, how does Kemp rate Kent“s form so far in this competition? ‘I think we are going okay. The lights debacle, down at Hove, was a bit of a hiccup. I felt we deserved to win that game but Sussex took the points so we need to move on. Both of our upcoming opponents are good sides and we will need to be on top of our game. This is crunch time in this competition. We don“t want to leave it to the Rose Bowl and Beckenham; we need to get our points before then.“

The game will be the first T20 match, involving Kent, at Tunbridge Wells. How will the players approach it? ‘It“s going to be interesting to see what the wicket is like, said Kemp. ‘Hopefully it will be a decent surface. The Nevill Ground is lovely. I think the key will be the wicket. I expect it to be slow, so I“m not sure the scores will be as high as you might see elsewhere.“

And how does Kemp rate his progress in Twenty20 cricket this season? ‘I think I“ve gone okay although I haven“t really had a chance to contribute with the bat. We have such good batters and all-rounders that I haven“t really had a good opportunity to come in. I“ve been coming in right at the death and I“ve pretty much had to slog from the first ball. I don“t think it helps that we keep changing formats; from T20 to Championship and then back again. But I don“t want to make excuses. I just want to keep playing good cricket for Kent.’

Earlier this month, Chairman, George Kennedy, confirmed that both Kemp and Azhar Mahmood had withdrawn from their respective ICL contracts and committed themselves to Kent. Kemp is clearly pleased that everything is now sorted: ‘It“s been a long hard road – for both Azhar and me. It was hard last year at Twenty20 Finals Day because we knew that we couldn“t go to the Champions Trophy. It was terrible for me. When I signed with the ICL, I was given the impression that everything would sort itself out and we players would be okay to play in the Champions Trophy. It didn“t happen, and it was difficult, but I would like to thank Kent and I“m just delighted that everything has now been sorted.“

Finally, it must be good for Kemp to be back to full fitness after the disappointments of last year: ‘2008 was tough for me. I“ve never had a back injury and I found it really difficult. I played when I wasn“t fully fit so I couldn“t give my all and probably shouldn“t have played. I probably learnt a bit of a lesson; it wasn“t good for me – playing with a debilitating injury. Still, everything is going really well now and I“m enjoying being able to contribute. I“m more mobile in the field, I“m bowling again and I feel good with the bat too.“

Pakistani all-rounder Azhar Mahmood returns to the squad in place of the injured Robbie Joseph. The 12-man Kent squad is as follows: Key (C), Denly, Jones (W), van Jaarsveld, Stevens, Hockley, Kemp, Mahmood, McLaren, Tredwell, Cook, Khan

Tickets are still available for the game against the Hampshire Hawks and for our other home group match,
against the Surrey Brown Caps, at Beckenham on Sunday, June 28.

To book your tickets, or find out further information, please call 01227 456886 or visit the official Kent website;

With your help and support, we can qualify for the knockout stages for the third year in a row!

Picture courtesy of Sarah Ansell