Bell-Drummond on Sunday’s ‘Battle of the Bridge’

Bell-Drummond on Sunday’s ‘Battle of the Bridge’

The “Battle of the Bridge” has turned into one of the fiercest rivalries in the county game, but the pressure will be entirely on the Kent Spitfires when they host Essex in the Metro Bank One Day Cup at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence on Sunday.

Essex are out, while Kent will probably need to win both their remaining matches to ensure qualification from Group A and even then run rate calculations could yet thwart them.

“I’m hoping two more wins will get us there,” said Kent’s Daniel Bell-Drummond, after their one-wicket defeat to Notts on Thursday. “I know the guys are really looking forward to Essex, especially off the back of a tight one tonight. We just want to get back out there. It’s always a big game playing against Essex in any format.

We’re back at Canterbury on Sunday for the ‘Battle of the Bridge’!

We welcome Essex to The Spitfire Ground in a 50-over showdown – Under 15s tickets are just £1!

Buy tickets now

“Last time out we beat them in a T20 at their place and it’s always good to get one over on them. Whatever team they put out it’s always a strong outfit. I know it’ll be a challenge for us, but I’m confident in the guys.”

That confidence stems partly from his contribution to Kent’s revival in the competition, with scores of 65, 58 and 79 since his release from the London Spirit, and partly from a strategic shift prompted by failed run chases against Leicestershire and Lancashire.

The Spitfires have won the toss in their last three games and chosen to bat each time, backing a quartet of spinners to defend any target. Between them Matt Parkinson, Hamid Qadri, Jaydn Denly and skipper Jack Leaning bowled 31.1 overs out of 43.1 in the rout of Surrey, taking eight wickets between them.

They then accounted for 22.4 out of 36.4 overs in an even more convincing win over Middlesex, this time taking sixty percent of the wickets.

The change of approach was so successful that in the aftermath of Thursday’s defeat some fans questioned why they’d only bowled 31 overs out of 50 and why Leaning hadn’t trusted either himself or 17-year old Denly in the death overs, although in truth it was a marginal call in a game decided by the barest of margins.

Kent are likely to stick with the formula on Sunday when two of the best spinners in the English game could potentially go head-to-head, with England’s Parkinson facing South Africa’s Simon Harmer.

“The guys are confident that we’ve got a template now to keep working on,” Bell-Drummond said. “We play to our advantage and getting runs on the board is key. I wouldn’t want to face our attack. The spinners were excellent, they’ve done really well in the tournament. They’ve got a great combination going, it’s a shame we couldn’t make it three on the spin, but that’s our plan going forwards.”

Bell-Drummond could be recalled at any time but he’s savouring the Metro Bank Cup, however long his personal involvement in it lasts.

“I really enjoy 50-over cricket,” he said. “It’s always great playing in front of a home crowd that comes to support you and turns out in numbers, so we’re really appreciative of that. I really enjoy playing this format and obviously love playing for Kent. I was injured last month and I desperately needed some cricket. It’s worked out well for both myself and Kent while I’m not in the Hundred team for the minute. It’s been great, I enjoyed playing at Beckenham and enjoyed playing at Canterbury too. I don’t know how many more games I’ll play but I’m just taking it day by day and really loving playing with the guys.

“This is one of my favourite formats as well and I hadn’t played it for four years before a couple of weeks ago so I’m glad to be out there. I’m happy to be out there and hopefully three figures is around the corner, but I’m really happy with the starts I’ve been giving the team. You have a bit more time than you think in this format and especially batting first you never know what a good score is.”

It isn’t of course, the only sporting event taking place on Sunday, with the match due to start at the same time England’s Lionesses play Spain in the World Cup final. The Club’s view, at a county that celebrates highly its association with women’s sport, is that it’s neither realistic nor desirable to ignore events in Australia and the match will be televised in the bar areas, although it won’t, as someone suggested, be on the big screen.

Bell-Drummond says the players are experienced when it comes to shutting out distractions. “You hear things from the crowd, but it doesn’t change what you’ve got to do, you’re always focused on the next ball and we will be,” he said.

“We were playing against Hampshire when England played New Zealand in 2019 and luckily we were able to watch the last three overs. That was probably the best bit,” he added, with mild understatement.

By Fred Atkins

The Metro Bank One Day Cup is throughout in the school Summer Holidays!

Under 15s tickets just £1!

Buy tickets now