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Ivan Thomas happy to be fit and firing

Tuesday 23rd June 2015

Men’s First Team

Kent’s young pace bowler Ivan Thomas has been an eager ever-present in Kent’s LV= County Championship side to date this summer and, having missed two of his last four campaigns through injury, you can understand his delight.

Growing in maturity and strength with every appearance, the 6ft 4in right-armer from Greenwich has chipped in with 23 wickets from 211.4 overs in his eight four-day starts thus far – excellent figures for a player whose cricketing ambitions were almost dashed by a triple stress fracture of the back at the age of 16.

“My body is feeling very strong, which is good news when you consider I’ve never played this much cricket consecutively,” said Thomas, now 23.

“I had a big winter away in Australia, working with strength and conditioning coaches over there, and it has set me up perfectly and made sure I’ve stayed on the park.

“If anything, I’ve found the mental side of it the toughest part,” he conceded. “Having not played this much back-to-back first-class cricket, it has come as surprise as to how strong mentally you need to be to get through it.”

Thomas added: “It was about this time a couple of years ago when I was contemplating packing it all in because my body didn’t seem strong enough to withstand a full game of cricket for one day, let alone over four, so I do realise that I’ve come a long way.

“I got a degree from Leeds University and was considering heading down the physiotherapy route, perhaps staying within the game but, fingers crossed, that decision is still a fair way down the road.”

Though happy with his return of 23 LV= County Championship scalps, Thomas sets the performance bar high for himself and is keen to continue his development and improvement of his consistency levels so he can emulate his new ball partner Matt Coles.

“It’s nice to offer something to the team in terms of wickets taken and that I’m not just left feeling that I’m holding up an end,” said Thomas.

“One of the biggest differences from club and Second XI cricket to playing in the first team is the interest, the coverage and the scrutiny.

"Sometimes, in the seconds, you can come off thinking you’ve bowled OK, but the same thing can happen in the firsts and something will pop up on the internet or Facebook saying ‘Bad day for Thomas’ or ‘Kent bowlers struggle’ and, when you read that, there’s a real danger you’ll start putting extra pressure on yourself.

“Having missed two crucial years of my career and my development I set high standards for myself, so I’m pleased that I’ve hit the ground running this season. I guess I used to want to take five wickets in every innings and be the star man every game, but I know now it can never be like that on a daily basis.

“Colesy and I are poles apart in terms of experience but there’s only about 18 months difference in our ages, so having him at the other end is great for me. He’s set tremendous standards and is so unselfish.

“He’ll bowl 30 overs in the dirt then go out and bat and make a useful contribution, then he’ll open the bowling again and still give it his all. The bloke leaves everything out there on the pitch, he’s been an absolute star so far and, in terms of where I want to be with my game, I look up to him massively.”

Mark Pennell

Australia begin the 2015 Ashes Tour in Canterbury with a four-day match at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence.

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