Kent“s Batsman of the Year Martin van Jaarsveld (pictured) talks to the official club website about his early season struggles and his subsequent return to form.
The South African run-machine wasn“t his usual prolific self at the start of the last campaign, but once he got going, passed a thousand championship runs to continue his fine contribution to Kent Cricket: “I found it a massive struggle in 2010. I think part of the reason was that I didn“t get that big score early on – it took so long. In previous years, I“ve always scored a hundred nice and early and that gets you up and running. I think I scored my first ton against Essex this year, which was pretty late. Fortunately, things started to improve towards the end of the season.”
The aforementioned century against Essex, at the St Lawrence Ground, didn“t come until the end of July. Kent recorded a 99 run win in that game, and the vice-captain is at a loss as to why it took him so long to find his touch: “I“m not too sure why I struggled early on. We played lots of cricket early in the season, which was tough, and the wickets didn“t help. Not being able to use the heavy roller in championship cricket made it tough for batters and things changed quite a bit this year because of it.”
With the heavy roller no longer available in championship cricket, pitches throughout the country were tougher to bat on – highlighted by Derbyshire being bowled out by Gloucestershire for 44 late-on in the season. Stylish run-maker van Jaarsveld is unsure whether the change in laws proved successful or not?: “I think it is difficult to judge if it has been a success. We have got more results this year but I“m not sure people like seeing sides bowled out for 60, 80 or 100. For me, we played too much four-day cricket in May and early June, when conditions were difficult.”
The former Northamptonshire batsman went onto post 1,188 championship runs at an average of 44, after a slow start, making him Kent“s leading run-scorer for the 2010 domestic campaign. However he is fully aware of his advancing years and admits runs are a little harder to come by these days: “I guess part of it was confidence. As soon as I got a score, the pressure was almost off. However, when you cannot get a run, the pressure is on. I put quite a bit of pressure on myself anyway because I want to keep scoring runs. I take personal pride in my performances. I“ve got three or four years left in my career as, once finished, I want to look back and be proud of what I did. I guess it does get harder from a fitness point of view as you get older. As you get older, it“s not often that you wake up and feel like a spring chicken. There is always some soreness but I guess the upside is that you gain lots of experience that you can tap into. If you want to keep up with youngsters then you have to work twice as hard.”
Van Jaarsveld also impressed in the shorter form of the game, throughout the campaign, as he topped the county“s t20 averages and he is ultimately happy with his 2010 contribution and proud to take the award: “Halfway through the season, a thousand runs seemed a long way away so I was very happy to get to that milestone; that is always my first port of call. Receiving the batting award was the cherry on the cake really. I thought I did well in one-day cricket too. I got some good starts in the FP t20 but didn“t really go on. Fortunately I got to nearly 2000 runs so I suppose I would have settled for that.”
Kent“s resident slipper also took the Fielder of the Year award after pouching an impressive 36 victims – mostly in his favoured second-slip position. However, as a team Rob Key“s men dropped numerous throughout a tough season, something van Jaarsveld felt cost them dearly: “We put down some catches at crucial phases. I am the first to put my hand up and say that I dropped one or two catches near the end of the season. In games, we had the chance to really press home some situations but we didn“t do it – for whatever reason.”
Picture: Sarah Ansell