Captain Key looks forward to Canterbury Cricket Week

Sunday 1st August 2010

After recovering from a broken finger Kent captain Rob Key (pictured) returned to action last week to lead his side to a crucial 99 run win over Essex in LV=CC division one. The victory moves Kent out of the relegation zone going into Canterbury Cricket Week, starting on Tuesday against Somerset. Captain Key talks to the website about the vital win over their rivals from up the road and looks forward to festival week.

Despite a Saturday afternoon wobble when the home side were bowled out for 135, Kent took a maximum points victory over Essex as the visitors failed in their pursuit of 277. Key was understandably delighted to seal the win: “It was a very good victory. It has been a tough year but I was pleased to get the first home championship win of the season. It was the first time since the game up at Durham that we have had a full strength side and we recorded a good win. Cricket is a funny game. We have run teams close on a number of occasions and come out on the wrong side so it was good to get it right here. Things are more interesting this season as you cannot use the heavy roller. It makes it far more interesting although not overly easy for the batters.”

Strike-bowler Azhar Mahmood was the main man for Kent in the Essex second innings. His figures of 5-62 played a key role in securing the win. However, with the visitors at one stage reaching 120-3, it looked as though the final day may have been tighter than it turned out to be, until wicketkeeper Geraint Jones superbly stumped danger man Ravi Bopara for 31 off the bowling of Simon Cook, and once he went Azhar took centre stage. Key couldn“t praise the Pakistani seamer any higher: “I always felt that we were favourites, going into the final day, but when Ravi (Bopara) and Walks (Matt Walker) were together I was starting to think that they might do it but we bowled well and stuck to our task. Azhar was the star bowler for me. He impresses every time he plays. He doesn’t go for runs and takes wicket. As captain, you love having players like that in your team. It would be nice to see him play every four-day match but his body cannot do it anymore.”

Marcus Trescothick“s Somerset are the visitors for the LV=CC festival clash this week and with Kent still in need of points to continue their move away from the drop zone, Key knows how important it is to keep picking up points: “We are full of confidence at the moment and cannot wait for Canterbury Cricket Week to begin. The league is so tight at the moment. If we can string a couple of wins together then we can start to climb the table. It is amazing what a win and maximum batting points does. It was nice for me as captain to take maximum batting and bowling points. The win has moved us up into mid-table and that is a much better position to be in.”

With the buzz of Canterbury Cricket Week taking over the St Lawrence Ground this week and big crowds expected the captain still gets excited when this time of the year comes around, and with victory on his mind, Key is hoping his side can rise to the occasion: “Canterbury Week is special, not just for members and supporters but for us players too. I guess I didn’t really know too much about it when I first came into the side but you get to know more about the traditions as you get older. The boys love playing in front of big crowds and the marquees make it an extra special atmosphere. Hopefully we can get a good result against a strong Somerset side.”

Somerset currently sit third in the table and are undoubtedly a strong outfit. Opening batsman Key was quick to identify their two danger-men: “They have a number of good players and will make it difficult for us. Marcus Trescothick is still a fine player and he continues to score runs at the top of the innings. I also rate Murali Kartik very highly. He is a skilful bowler and did well against us down at Taunton.”

The 31-year broke his little finger in the defeat at Hampshire last month but has made a speedy recovery to return and help influence Kent“s end of season. His return is timely and with the injury improving all the time, Key is now looking to get some practice in before the big clash with Somerset: “The finger is getting better and better. I was desperate to play in the Essex game but haven’t really had the opportunity to practice much in recent weeks. Hopefully I will now get the chance to get in the nets ahead of Tuesday’s big game.”

Tickets are available on the gate for the LV= County Championship match between Kent and Somerset at the St Lawrence Ground in Canterbury. The price is £20 for adults and £5 for juniors.

Picture:Sarah Ansell