Evison ‘loving every minute’ at Kent

Evison ‘loving every minute’ at Kent

Confidence wasn’t high in the Kent fan base when Yorkshire reduced them to 49 for four during their opening Metro Bank One Day Cup game on Tuesday. Then again it wasn’t that high going into last year’s final, when the Spitfires took on a full-strength Lancashire with the same squad that had got them through the knock-out stages.

Yet Kent Spitfires won both games and the common denominator was Joey Evison: 97 runs and two key wickets at Trent Bridge earned him the player-of-the-final award, while a crucial 136 at Scarborough helped the visitors squeezed home by two runs in a DLS-affected game.

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“We’ve had a great start to the competition off the back off winning the final last season,” Evison said. “We take a lot of confidence going into this tournament knowing that we’re trying to defend the trophy and on a personal note I was happy to contribute to a match-winning performance on Tuesday.”

What has changed this year is Evison’s position in the order. “I started off opening the batting last year but now we’ve got Marcus O’Riordan who’s an opening batter and we needed a player to bat five or six. I can bat anywhere in the order but I’m also going to be bowling seven to ten overs a match so I needed a bit more of a break before I had to bat as well.
“It’s a role I’m going to be playing more often for Kent in white-ball cricket in the future, so I’m giving myself a bit more experience.”

The role change allowed him to rebuild the Kent innings at Scarborough, after a torrid opening spell. While Ben Compton played his customary anchor role to brilliant effect, Evison was charged with shifting the momentum.

“When I came in it was just about trying to put pressure back on the opposition and not just let them bowl at us,” he said. “Ben Coad bowled ten straight through and he bowled magnificently well, so when those other bowlers came on we had to put them on the back foot. A couple of shots early on went my way and yeah, it was my day in the end.

“I struggled at the start and there were a lot of play and misses. Obviously when I was trying to put pressure back on them and play more aggressive shots a few didn’t come out too well. It was nipping around, but when the ball got older it started to become easier to bat on and the ball came on nicer.”

The defending champions’ first home game of the season comes at Beckenham this Sunday, when they host Leicestershire Foxes, the side they beat in last year’s quarter-finals. “I’ve played twice there, it’s a lovely ground and normally a good batting wicket, so it should be a good, high-scoring game,” said Evison, who’s hoping the competition will have a similar effect to the one it had during last season’s relegation battle.

“Momentum’s a big thing in cricket,” he said. “I think this tournament’s come at the right time really. This season’s not been our best and we’re in a dogfight to stay up now. Middlesex have got a game in hand and the last three champo games are going to be really crucial but I think if we have a good Metro Bank Cup we can take that confidence into the last three games of the season.”

It’s almost exactly a year since Evison moved south, having initially joined on loan from Nottinghamshire. He seems to have integrated. One Kent insider described him as: “a brilliant human being” and when the schedule allows he’s enjoyed the company of his new team mates.

“I’ve loved every minute, having moved down here and not really knowing many people, I couldn’t have asked for much better really,” he said. “The dressing room have helped me settle in really well, they’ve supported me all the way and I’ve already made some really good friends down here.”

And for all the attractions of franchise cricket, his ultimate goal is to play test cricket for England. Asked to name which of his colleagues looks best in a Stokes-style bucket hat, he plumps for another three-format cricketer who he hopes to follow into the England squad: “Joe Denly wears his everywhere he goes. He embraces it.”

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