Darren Stevens on form for Kent

Tuesday 11th June 2013

Men’s First Team

Darren Stevens on form for Kent

After a slow start to the season, by his own high standards, Kent’s premier all-rounder, Darren Stevens, has returned to form in a big way over the past couple of weeks.

In four LV= County Championship knocks, the right-hander has scored 136, 97, 60 and 96 to transform his 2013 campaign. Despite a start to the season that was hampered by injury, Stevens always knew that the runs would flow before long and told the official website that going back to basics has proved the ideal tonic: “I said a few weeks ago to Jimmy (Adams) that I just needed a bit of time in the middle. I just felt I needed something to get me going. I got frustrated early season as I had a couple of niggles and didn't perform as well as I know I can. I went back to basics and then got the chance at Essex to spend some time out in the middle and I've just kicked on from there. I looked at my technique a little bit as I wanted to get things right. I decided to start using the thin bat, which I used to train with, and to just keep it simple. Using the thin bat has helped and the intensity in practice is back, which is great.”

After a tricky period, Kent played some much better cricket against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl last week and thanks to a powerful 96 from Stevens they nearly pulled off a dramatic last day victory. In the end they had to settle for a draw, something which frustrated Stevens as he felt he had the chance to see Kent through to what would have been a great victory: “Looking back at those two losses to Northants and Worcestershire, I felt we were beaten by two bowlers who had days out against us (Trent Copeland and Alan Richardson). Then, going to Essex, we lost a whole day of rain but we felt we were on top and playing well. We lost a day and a half against Leicester at Tunbridge Wells but, again, we were in the driving seat. Last week was also really frustrating as both sides came up with a plan to try and get a win and I genuinely felt we could do it. We had a team meeting and I apologised to the lads. Daniel (Bell-Drummond) and I got us back into contention to win the game, with a big partnership, and I felt getting out just before tea stopped us from winning.

“It was frustrating that we didn't quite get over the line. We had some good talks about winning the game and it was disappointing not to do it. I held my hand up as I felt we had the game. Daniel and I were just milking it around and his confidence was growing all of the time, so to only get a draw was tough to take.”

After falling to 41-4 in their run chase, Stevens joined youngster Daniel Bell-Drummond at the crease and the duo put on 144 for the fifth wicket. Bell-Drummond looks a fine talent and Stevens believes he has what it takes to develop into a quality batsman: “He's a fine young player; he gets a bit nervous at times but he is a smart kid and he seems to learn on the spot. He has certainly got a great future ahead of him if he continues to develop.”

Stevens spent the early days of his career with Leicestershire before making the move south, in readiness for the 2005 season. The 37 year-old kicked on once he made the move to Kent but realises the experience on offer at Grace Road helped shape his career: “Having senior players around certainly helped me to progress. I was playing alongside the likes of Vince Wells, Phil Simmons, Gordon Parsons and David Millns. All were good players and just getting the chance to bat with them and spend some time in the field with them helped me to learn the game. Through them, I really started to understand my game and cricket in general. It does help and I hope some of the youngsters can learn off me and the other senior boys how I did when I started because I know it helped me massively.”

Kent have failed to impress at home in recent times and Stevens knows it is something they need to put right, starting with this week’s match against Glamorgan: “Obviously we all know that we need to improve. A couple of the pitches have been a little bit spicy but we are professional cricketers and we need to figure out a way of bowling on it and getting runs on it. We need to do that as we've let the supporters down and we've let ourselves down, by not performing as well as we can. We need to execute our plans better and that is what we are aiming to do.

“We've put in a couple of good performances of late (in the Championship) and know that, with better weather, we could have won them. We probably need to work a bit harder on getting a few more wickets but the boys have been scoring runs and the spirit in the camp is quite high. It should be a good game against Glamorgan this week as they're on a bit of a high and so are we.”

Added to his exploits with the bat, Stevens has chipped in with 15 wickets, at an average of 24.40, and his bowling is important to the team. The medium-pacer says he often feels it the next day but clearly enjoys his all-round role within the side: “I'm feeling good but the 30 overs at the Ageas Bowl last week certainly didn't help my legs! In fairness I've always enjoyed bowling and I didn't bowl too much at Leicestershire so I'm making the most of it now. It’s not easy on the body and I've been bowling with a couple of niggles, as I hurt my side and knee, but I've got fully over those injuries now and hopefully I can stay fit for the remainder of the season.”