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Key previews Kent’s LVCC trip to Gloucestershire

Monday 21st September 2009

Kent“s cricketers start their final LV County Championship match of the season tomorrow when they travel to Bristol to take on Gloucestershire. Kent have already won the Division Two title, accumulating an impressive eight wins from their 15 games to date.

Despite being comfortable winners of the title, skipper Rob Key (pictured)says there is still plenty to play for in their final Championship match of the season: “Several of the boys have personal milestones that they are chasing so they will want to finish the season off in style. We will all get an opportunity to add to our runs tally and that is especially important for the people nearing a 1,000 runs for the season. They will want to finish the season on a high by scoring a few runs. It“s the same for the bowlers. They will want to get that final five-wicket haul of the summer so that they can winter well. Everyone wants to finish off with a positive display so it changes from a good summer to a very good summer. We will put in one final effort and hope that we end the Championship season with a win down in Bristol.”

Kent have achieved what they set out to do by winning the Division Two title and earning an instant return to the top flight. So how tough has this year been for Key and his team-mates? “It“s been pretty difficult, to be honest. There are some decent sides in Division Two. The toughest win was against Middlesex, at Uxbridge, and they are struggling. To win eight out of 15 is very impressive because many sides are happy to play for draws. Going in as favourites (for the title), put added pressure on us. I prefer being the underdog but we have led the table from the start and it“s been a good season. We set out to win something in one-day cricket too but we haven“t been able to achieve that. We have a good mix at the moment with some good experienced heads and a few young guys. The youngsters have got a fair amount of cricket under their belts so it will help them develop quicker and set them up nicely for the first division.”

And how does Key rate the season? “Well I view it as a bit of a stop gap year. Nothing against the second division but it is obviously not as good as the first division. We have spent a whole year trying to win the division but it doesn“t really count. Winning the Championship means winning the first division and we will aim to do that next year, now we are back up. The pleasing thing is that we have managed to find some form and confidence in four-day cricket this summer.”
With such a small squad, and a few injuries, several youngsters have got an extended run in the side and Key has been pleased with their overall contribution: “I think there is still a feeling that the youngsters don“t get much of a go but it“s a tough balancing act. We have got some good players and a real strong side but it“s pleasing to see some of the younger ones getting a go and showing their worth. Playing first-team cricket will naturally improve them as players and the likes of Sam Northeast and Alex Blake will have learnt an awful lot this summer. They have a good idea where they need to improve and they will need to work on their games over the winter, along with everyone else in the squad, because it will be much tougher for us next year in the first division.”

Kent“s final opponents, Gloucestershire, have endured an up and down season; a point Key was quick to pick up on: “I guess they are a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde side. They were top of the table when we played them in the reverse fixture at Beckenham. I remember the game well as it was first against second at the time; it was a big game. We won it and have gone from strength to strength. Since that narrow defeat, Gloucestershire seem to have struggled but they will be difficult opponents for us. They have one of the better bowling attacks around and it wouldn“t have taken much for them to be up in the promotion places.”

Kent have named a 12-man squad for the game. Vice-captain Martin van Jaarsveld misses out for personal reasons while all-rounder Ryan McLaren has returned to South Africa. James Hockley and Matt Coles come into the 12. The full squad is as follows: Key (C), Northeast, Jones (W), Hockley, Stevens, Kemp, Blake, Tredwell, Cook, Khan, Coles, Edwards

Picture:Getty Images