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Captain Key salutes his Spitfires after fine T20 win

Tuesday 23rd June 2009

KENT captain Rob Key (pictured) was a delighted man after the Spitfires boosted their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages of the Twenty20 Cup with a tense one run win over the Surrey Brown Caps at The Brit Oval.

The skipper led from the front with a knock of 44 and then managed the side well in the field – making some inspired bowling changes and getting his best fielders in the key positions at the right times. So how did he find the closing stages of a real classic? ‘It was a great game and very enjoyable. I felt we put a good score on the board. I was disappointed that we didn“t bowl as well as we can in the first six. I know we can get better upfront with the ball. In the middle, and at the end, we did well.“

To add even more drama and excitement to the game Kent were penalised six penalty runs for a slow over rate. It meant that the Brown Caps needed just eight to win off the final over but Key says he always felt confident that his players would pull off the victory: ‘Because they were nine down, I always felt we were favourites but it would“ve been a tough one for the bookies to call. Full credit to Ryan McLaren because he bowled a good final over and Jarre (Martin van Jaarsveld) then kept his head to run out their batter.“

The victory sparked big celebrations in the Kent dressing room and moved the Spitfires on to 11 points from their eight T20 group matches: ‘I think you could see how much it meant to the players“, said Key. ‘I think the celebration of Geraint Jones showed how much we wanted it! Everyone contributed in a good team win and it puts us in a good position.“

Both sides got off to good starts with the bat and then seemed to slow down as the innings progressed. Key felt that was down to the wicket: ‘It wasn“t an easy deck. It was pretty slow. We had guys like Justin Kemp and Azhar Mahmood in and they were struggling to get it away at the end. When you see that, you know it“s going to be difficult. It was tough for our guys so you knew it would be just as difficult for them – especially chasing.“

Throughout the interview you could see the smile back on Rob“s face and he certainly feel a lot more content now after two good knocks: ‘I“m obviously much happier. It was nice to contribute and play a part in back-to-back wins. I“ve worked a little on my technique and I had a bit of luck today but it was still pleasing to enjoy a good hit. I wasn“t too worried about things but I“m pleased to have got a couple of scores under my belt.“

After the two successive victories, Kent Spitfires are now close to qualifying for the knockout stages of the Twenty20 Cup for the third season in a row. So how many more points does Key feel they need? ‘I don“t really know because we have some good sides in our division and it is hard to predict the outcome of matches. I think one more win will do it. The guys are playing some good cricket but I still feel we can improve. Let“s not forget that we are doing all this without an overseas player.“

Kent have two matches left to play; away to Hampshire Hawks on Friday and then at home to Surrey Brown Caps on Sunday. Key is expecting a tough match down at the Rose Bowl: ‘It will be difficult for us. We saw what a good side they are at Tunbridge Wells. Michael Lumb is a quality player and they have a number of other good performers too. But we are looking forward to it because we are going well at the moment.“

Tickets are still available for The Spitfires final T20 group match against the Surrey Brown Caps at Beckenham on Sunday. You can purchase yours on the day at the ground. It promises to be a fantastic and exciting end so I know that you will want to be there – cheering the Spitfires on to a place in the quarter-finals of the Twenty20 Cup!

Picture courtesy of Sarah Ansell