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All-rounder McLaren previews LVCC match with league leaders

Sunday 28th June 2009

KENT“S cricketers return to four-day LV County Championship action tomorrow, looking to topple league leaders Gloucestershire at Beckenham. After the successful staging of the Twenty20 Cup game, against the Surrey Brown Caps, Beckenham gets its chance to stage a Championship match for the first time since 2004.

South African all-rounder Ryan McLaren, who took four wickets in yesterday“s win over Surrey, has fond memories of playing Gloucestershire. The last time he played against them was in the Twenty20 Cup final, back in 2007, when he took a hat-trick: “That was a great day for me and one that I will never forget but it was two years ago now and in a different competition. I have many happy memories of that day at Edgbaston but I will go into this fixture with an open mind as I don“t want anything to distract me from my main aim of helping Kent win against the league leaders.”

After a run of T20 matches, Kent return to the longer-format of the game and McLaren is clearly looking forward to the change: “The boys like it at Beckenham so it“s good to get a Championship game up there. You get a fair bit of bounce and carry; the wicket is always good and the crowd tends to make lots of noise and get right behind us. I“ve only experienced one-day cricket there but I“m sure the Championship game will be just as good. Us bowlers will have to make sure we get our lengths right but I“m looking forward to it.”

Opponents Gloucestershire have got off to a fine start in the Championship this season. They currently lead the table by 22-points and McLaren believes he knows why: “They“ve got a well-balanced team, with lots of experience. Guys like Jon Lewis and Steve Kirby have been around a while and they are good bowlers. They have some real match-winners in their side so we will need to be on top of our game up at Beckenham.”

McLaren comes into the Championship game on the back of a decent Twenty20 Cup campaign. After starting slowly, his form picked up and he knows why: “It was a strange sort of T20 campaign for me. It was tough when I first arrived back in the UK, because I felt under-bowled. I needed lots of overs, under my belt, to build up some rhythm but I felt better as the tournament went on and I“m delighted that we have qualified for the quarter-finals. It will be a cracking game against the Durham Dynamos next month.”

Opener Joe Denly is away on international duty, with the England Lions, so England under-19 batsman Sam Northeast comes into the side along with all-rounder Azhar Mahmood, who replaces the injured Robbie Joseph. Young Academy player Sam Billings is also named in the 12-man squad.

Kent: Key (C), Northeast, Jones (W), van Jaarsveld, Stevens, Kemp, McLaren, Mahmood, Tredwell, Cook, Khan, Billing

Picture courtesy of www.arpics.co.uk