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Jack Leaning: Kent is a “really good place to be”

Friday 26th January 2024

Men’s First Team

Kent Vice Captain Jack Leaning has spoken of his excitement ahead of the new season, fresh from extending his contract at the county as well as being named Vice Captain & Kent Spitfires skipper for the 2024 Metro Bank One Day Cup.

Speaking to BBC Radio Kent’s ‘The Huddle’ programme that airs every Friday evening on BBC Radio Kent & BBC Sounds between 6 & 7pm, Leaning spoke to the BBC’s Matt Cole about the recent news of his commitment to Kent & extended leadership role.

Listen to the full interview here [via BBC Sounds, beginning at 36:23]

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“I’m really excited. Since I’ve come down to Kent I feel like it’s really rejuvenated my career and my love for the game.

“I feel really at home here now, so I’m really excited to play for hopefully the next three years but hopefully a lot more after that as well.”

When asked if Kent was a great place for players to come and ply their trade, the 30-year-old was quick to point out that setting down roots in the Garden of England is easier than he first thought:

“I think it’s somewhere that’s very easy to come and settle in. I think a number of players that have come to join us over the past few years would all credited that as well. It makes you somewhere where you can feel comfortable in your own skin and it’s somewhere that gives you the best opportunity to fulfil your own skills as part of a good team as well.

“It’s a really good place to be as a player and I’m looking forward to playing a whole load more games hopefully.

“If you’re settled off the field, and your family are settled in nicely as well, that makes a big difference to how you feel when you go out on the pitch.

“That’s happened really quickly – albeit we first came down in lockdown and quickly felt like we were at home, so I guess it was really like a bit of a blessing in disguise really. My fiancée is nicely settled at King’s School and I’m at Kent and it’s all going quite nicely at the moment.”

As well as committing his future to the Club until at least the end of the 2026 season, the all-rounder is also keen to get going in two new leadership roles in the playing group:

“I’m really looking forward to it. I guess I’ve taken on that role unofficially quite a lot in the last few years, with Sam being at various competitions and on international duty.

“It’s given me the opportunity to take the reins quite a few times so hopefully I’ll have some knowledge and some skills to pass on to Deebz [Daniel Bell-Drummond] and the boys this year – hopefully we can have a really good year.”

And how will he find working with his new Club Captain?

“I made it no secret that I was really hopeful that [red-ball captaincy] would fall my way but I appreciate the Club wanted to move in a slightly different direction.

“Ironically, Daniel was probably in quite a similar place to me a few years ago when Sam was away for the T20 campaign that we won and he came back towards the back end and took over.

“I’m just as excited for Dan as I would have been for myself! We’re really good friends and we get on really well as teammates as well so he knows that there’s certainly no feelings of animosity or anything like that towards him and I’ll be giving everything I can to help him whenever he needs it.”

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It’s not just Daniel Bell-Drummond that Jack will be working with this season. When probed about the importance of having more than one leader in the squad to drive success and nurture young talent, he mentions that the leaders at Kent all play their part:

“I was very lucky to have that over the past couple of years when I’ve captained. People like Zak coming back from England, or Deebz or Denners [Joe Denly]  – people like that in the team really helps, just to bounce ideas off and to speak to.

“Ultimately as a captain you don’t always have all the ideas as much as you want to try to portray that sometimes! It’s good to get the input of senior players and then collate your own opinion and move forward as a team, really.

“I think it’s good to get people involved that you trust – because I feel like that gives a sense of more of a team environment where everyone’s input is valid as well. I think that creates a good atmosphere in the dressing room.”

Simon Cook has now been in-post as Director of Cricket for a couple of months – right-hander Leaning then discussed how the former Kent seamer has got on…

“One of the first things he did was offer me a contract extension so I was pretty happy with that and thought he got off to a brilliant start really!

“He’s settled into the role nicely and I think he’s obviously got the respect of the lads anyway through his coaching and he’s been our bowling coach, effectively assistant coach, over the past few years – especially during the 50-over competition when Walksy [Matt Walker] has been away.

“He’s done really well – communication from him and from the lads has been really good and he’s really starting to put his own stamp on things now.

“Like anything, the proof in the pudding will be when the season comes around and we’ll see when it pans out but everything’s been going really well so far.”

…and finally, what has he been up to this Winter, and what’s to come before the start of the Summer?

“It’s been a quiet Winter for me so far – I haven’t actually done much cricket stuff yet! A little bit of fielding, and plenty of gym work and fitness stuff which takes the priority at this time of year.

“I’ll probably start ramping up the cricket skills in the next couple of weeks – we’ve then got a pre-season training camp with six or seven of us going out to India at the back end of February into early March for ten days. I’m really looking forward to that and getting outside, being in conditions that are a little bit different and learning.

“I’ve done it once before and it was a fantastic ten days. I felt like it got me nicely ready for the season.”

Listen to the full interview here [via BBC Sounds, beginning at 36:23]

BBC Radio Kent’s ‘The Huddle’ airs every Friday evening on BBC Radio Kent & BBC Sounds between 6 & 7pm

View our 2024 Kent Membership Brochure

Buy 2024 Kent Membership now