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Hampshire v Kent: Familiar foes face off in NatWest T20 Blast

Wednesday 20th May 2015

Men’s First Team

Familiar faces from Hampshire and Kent Spitfires will do battle in front of the Sky Sports cameras on Friday in week two of the 2015 NatWest T20 Blast live on Sky Sports 2 (coverage starts at 6.45pm).

Former Kent players Michael Carberry, the ex-England batsman, and Pakistan seamer Yasir Arafat – who helped Kent to reach the T20 final in 2008 – will line up against the Spitfires who, in turn, will include ex-Hampshire paceman David Griffiths and all-rounder Matt Coles in their number.

Though only 29, Griffiths is still a relative rookie in this format and Friday's match will represent only his 18th T20 start.

Yet his excellent white-ball performances since joining Kent in 2014 have ensured his is one of the first names inked onto the Spitfires’ teamsheet.

Revelling in his new-found confidence, Griffiths said: “When you’re stood at your mark – preparing to run in and bowl – it’s a great feeling to know you’ve got the full support of your team, as well as the management, and their total belief in my ability. Not only to bowl, but to bowl well at the death.

“That’s a belief I’ve never really had before and I’d like to think it’s making a difference to my game and my consistency levels in this format.”

Griffiths, who hails from the Isle of Wight, added: “Winning against Sussex gave us a great start to the campaign because we showed to ourselves that we could perform under the pressure.

“Mitch Claydon’s penultimate over was superb and gave me just a few more runs to play with in my final over of the night.

“Sussex had made a very good start, their top four are all very good one-day players with the ability to take the game away from you.

“They almost did that, but we pulled it back in the middle overs through Tredders (James Tredwell) and Stevo (Darren Stevens) in the middle, and then Matt Coles, Mitch, and I, managed to finish the job.

“Now we move on to Hampshire where I’ll be under the pump against some old mates of course, but I’m really looking forward to it.”

Having lost from eight of their last 10 T20 starts against Hampshire, Kent will be looking to upset the form book and will head toward the south coast knowing the team batting first in the last nine of these fixtures have won on eight occasions.

However, both sides will be looking to build on their respective wins in the opening round; when Hampshire held off Ryan ten Doeschate’s late charge to land a 17-run success over Essex Eagles, while, in Canterbury, Kent’s bowlers held their nerve to edge home by seven runs against the Sussex Sharks.

James Vince fears all-rounder Matt Coles will come back to haunt Hampshire when Kent visit the Ageas Bowl for the NatWest T20 Blast on Friday.

Kent-born Coles was a significantfigure in the Hampshire side which reached the semi-finals of last year’s competition before losing to Lancashire, taking 18 wickets along the way and contributing with some big-hitting in the late order.

Hampshire had been expecting Coles would again be a key factor in their challenge for a sixth successive place in the finals day only for him to return to Kent late in the winter, citing homesickness as a reason for his sudden departure.

Hampshire captain Vince knows how good a player Coles can be when he gets his game together.

Vince said: “Matt will be eager to put in a goodperformance against us with bat and ball. We know what to expect from him.

‘’He does a good job in the T20 with the change up in his pace that he has got and he isdangerous with the bat.

‘’There were never any questions about his ability. If he gets his head down and works hard he can be a handful for any side.

‘’Matt Coles is not their only dangerous player. Maybe Kent have gone under the radar as a side but they are not to be taken lightly.

‘’Kent got off to a winning start and they have a few good players who can change the course of a T20 match.

“They have more than one guy who on their day can win a game on their own. We will have to be on the money again.’'