Ford prepares for toughest T20 group match of the summer

Wednesday 24th June 2009

KENT Spitfires Director of Cricket, Graham Ford, has braced his side to prepare for their toughest group match of the summer when they play the Hampshire Hawks, in the Twenty20 Cup, tomorrow evening at the Rose Bowl.

The Spitfires lost down at Southampton last season and Ford is expecting an equally tough battle this time around: ‘It will be very difficult for the boys. The Hawks gave us a pretty good smack last year and they look equally good this season. They have some brilliant strikers of a ball, are energetic in the field and they have plenty of bowling options too.“

With Kent“s victory over the Surrey Brown Caps last night, it looks like being a straight fight between Sussex, Kent, Hampshire and Essex for the three quarter-final places. Ford says playing in such a tight, competitive group does have its advantages: ‘I think it has helped us in the last couple of years. Playing in such a difficult group has certainly toughened up our players and arguably made it easier for us going into the quarter-finals. We are in a tough pool but playing difficult matches does get you ready for the crucial knockout stages.“

In previous years, Hampshire have produced wickets to suit their spin attack but Ford isn“t sure what to expect this year at the Rose Bowl: ‘As I mentioned, they have great variety so it makes it difficult to predict what kind of wicket we will face. They have gone with slow wickets in previous years, because it suited their spin bowlers, but with the likes of Chris Tremlett and Dominic Cork, they might look to prepare a quicker one this year. The key thing for us is to make sure that our disciplines are correct. If we do that then we give ourselves a good chance of winning the game.“

So what does it take to win T20 cricket matches? ‘Well I think it“s the team that sticks to its game plan and doesn“t panic that arguably comes out on top. We have shown some serious character this year and had to play well to win at Surrey yesterday evening. Most Twenty20 matches are generally tight affairs and you don“t often see big winning margins. I think we need to win one of our remaining two matches to make the quarter-finals.“

Finally, after the narrow win at the Brit Oval, is Ford looking to name an unchanged side for tomorrow“s big test with the Hampshire Hawks? ‘We haven“t got to that stage yet and we will delay the naming of our side until the last minute. We will go with a 13-man squad, because we have a couple of niggles. RJ (Robbie Joseph) is a doubt, with a shoulder problem, and Ryan (McLaren) is suffering with a finger problem. We would like both to come through, and play, so we will give them as long as possible to prove their fitness.“

Picture courtesy of Sarah Ansell