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Joe Denly: It’s good to be back home

Thursday 7th May 2015

Men’s First Team

Canterbury-born, raised in Whitstable and now living in Herne Bay, Joe Denly is a true man of Kent – so it seems only right that the opening batsman has returned to his roots after a three-year stint at Middlesex.

The 29-year-old right-hander had little hesitation in coming home to The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence and, while Kent’s headquarters has been upgraded significantly in his absence, Denly says it feels like he has hardly been away.

“I’m really happy to be back, I’m coming home and that’s always a good feeling,” said Denly. “I know the ground has changed and we have a few new faces in the squad, but in many ways very little has changed because there are still so many players who were here when I moved on. The younger players just coming through then are now mature first-teamers.

“There’s a lot of young talent at the club so it feels good to be back. I’m really enjoying the game again but, by the same token, I’m disappointed because I felt I underperformed for Middlesex, especially in my last couple of years.

“Of course, I wish I could have contributed a bit more, but me not playing as much in their first team as I wanted eventually enabled this move back to Kent. I’ve still got very good friends at Middlesex and left on the best of terms.”

Denly added: “I’m now on a learning curve again this season because there will be a lot of grounds I haven’t played on for a while. I don’t see that as a problem, and in fact it will help keep things fresh.

“Most grounds you play at these days have good facilities and decent pitches, but the one thing that may change is the level of bowling I come up against week after week having dropped down from Division One.”

Denly enjoyed a busy close-season playing cricket overseas, firstly in Bangladesh and then South Africa. Explaining his twin-destination approach, he said: “I’d put my name into the hat to go and play in the Bangladesh 50-over competition, but nothing really came of it. Then, just before Christmas, I had a phone call out of the blue asking if I could fly out that day and play for a month for Brothers Union, a team based in Dhaka.

“It’s always nice to play in different conditions and to challenge yourself, and it also gave me a great opportunity to play against a few of the millions of left-arm spinners playing over there.

“I got a few scores, but the other good thing to come out of it was that I got to bowl in virtually every game. I bowled quite nicely and that set the trend throughout the winter because I also got a lot of overs under my belt when I went to South Africa. It must have helped because, in the pre-season game against Loughborough, ‘Keysy’ bought me on and kept me on for thirty overs!”

Denly added that his visit to Durban was organised by Neil Dexter, the ex-Kent all-rounder and his former captain at Middlesex.

“I flew out to South Africa in mid-January. I stayed with Dex and his family and played for his club, Berea Rovers, for just over five weeks. It was a great opportunity to get out of the indoor school, hit some balls outdoors and give myself the best chance of hitting the ground running this season.”

Written by Mark Pennell