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Geraint Jones: Kent Spitfires are flying

Thursday 4th June 2015

Men’s First Team

Table-topping Kent Spitfires welcome a familar face to the County Ground, Beckenham on Friday evening for the NatWest T20 South Group clash against Gloucestershire.

The match represents a homecoming for Kent’s former vice-captain Geraint Jones, England’s 2005 Ashes hero who joined Gloucestershire in the close season after 14 seasons at Canterbury.

Jones, who is Gloucestershire’s four-day skipper, is looking forward to playing at Beckenham and batting again on a pitch of high renown.

“I expect it to be a good wicket as per usual there and a pretty high-scoring affair as a result,” said the former England gloveman.

“When you look at it, Spitfires are top by a margin yet guys like Darren Stevens and Sam Billings, who would both have expected to feature, have not quite hit their straps as yet. But that can be the nature of NatWest T20 Blast and, although I’m delighted for Sam and his England one-day call-up, we’ll be hoping to keep him quiet for just one more match!

“That said, Kent are flying with confidence and have played some exceptional cricket other than the defeat against Middlesex at Lord’s. Let’s face it we’ve all suffered days like that in T20. When nothing goes right in this format you’re very quickly on the wrong end of a heavy defeat.

“Sam [Northeast] is leading their side and run charge and is in the best form I’ve seen for a long time, so we’re under no illusions, Kent will be a tough nut to crack.”

As for his own side’s form, Jones added: “We’ve started the format well with home wins over Middlesex and Essex and a narrow defeat in a real close finish at Sussex in between.

“We’ve been strengthened by the return of our Aussie batsman, Michael Klinger, who hit 126 against Essex only days after coming back into the country.

“Anyone who’s watched Michael play will know what I mean when I say ‘he just bats properly’. He won’t be offended if I say he’s no Chris Gayle but, before you know it he has a big score on the board. It’s then that he can crack on and take an attack apart.”

Jones, who plays in T20 solely as a keeper-batsman, added: “It’s been a nice surprise to play white ball cricket and it feels good to have the gloves back on.

“The great thing about our side is that we’re not reliant on one star. Lads like Ian Cockbain and Tom Smith have been putting in match-defining performances too. It’s been a real squad effort.”

Kent – after five starts – lead the group by four points from second-placed Middlesex, and Gloucestershire, who lie third having played two games fewer.

Gloucestershire also provided the opposition in 1954 when Kent first played at the venue, then the Lloyds/TSB Bank social club ground, and which has since undergone major refurbishment.

To book tickets for Friday’s NatWest T20 Blast match v Gloucestershire at The County Ground, Beckenham visitwww.kentcricketshop.co.uk