Long Read: Kent’s Australian overseas XI

Thursday 11th July 2019

Men’s First XI

Tour Match

Long Read: Kent’s Australian overseas XI

Since 1855, fourteen players from Australia have played for Kent as a designated overseas player. Batsmen, bowlers, and (luckily) one wicketkeeper from ‘Down Under’ have worn Kent’s famous jersey over the years.

As Australia continue to take over The Spitfire Ground, St. Lawrence after Australia Women defeated England Women last weekend and Australia A will face off against England Lions in Canterbury from this Sunday, here’s what a playing eleven consisting solely of Kent’s Australian overseas players might look like:

1 – Greg Blewett (2003)

An opening batsman known for his eye-catching batting and elegant stroke-making, Blewett played 46 Tests for Australia between 1995 and 2000, averaging 34.02.

Before joining Kent, the South Australian had had spells at Yorkshire (1999) and Nottinghamshire (2001) and came to Kent in 2003 to play alongside Michael Carberry, Rob Key and Ed Smith at the top of the order.

Blewett played nine List A games for Kent, averaging 26.11 and also scored 319 runs at 31.90 in ten innings in the County Championship, after scoring 57 on debut against Leicestershire at The Spitfire Ground, St. Lawrence, Darren Stevens featuring in the visitors’ XI.

2 – Matt Renshaw (2019)

Kent’s overseas player for the first part of this season. He made his Test debut for Australia hailed as a methodical and determined opener at the age of 20 in November 2016, scoring 71 against Pakistan a month later in his second Test.

Renshaw came to Kent as Joe Denly was unable for the first part of the season due to IPL commitments, and slotted into the side as a “number three” to provide support to Zak Crawley and Sean Dickson.

In 12 innings across the Specsavers County Championship and Royal London One-Day Cup, Renshaw scored 331 runs for Kent, including 109 against Sussex Sharks in one-day competition at The County Ground, Beckenham in April.

3 – Steve Waugh (2002)

Arguably the most famous name in this eleven, Waugh arrived in Canterbury as an end-of-season replacement for Andrew Symonds at the back end of the 2002 season to much fanfare as Kent, who were second in the Championship at the time, looked to push on towards a title victory.

Waugh scored 59 not out on debut in List A competition, and like Greg Blewett it was against a Leicestershire including D.I. Stevens. In total, Waugh scored 159 runs in five innings at 39.75, also taking 2/6 away at Worcestershire in the competition.

After a slow start to his Kentish first-class career, Waugh ended on a high with a score of 146 away at Yorkshire, scoring 224 runs in total in six innings at 44.80.

4 – Michael Bevan (2004)

Hailed by many as one of the premier limited overs batsmen of his generation, Bevan came to Kent in 2004 at the back end of another season where Kent still had a glimmer of County Championship glory, like Waugh, to replace an Australia-bound Andrew Symonds.

Bevan had just lost his Australia central contract and admitted he looked for a county deal as soon as this was announced. His reputation as a world-class List A player was well-deserved at his time at Kent as he scored 128 runs in only four innings at an average of 42.66.

He had less success in the County Championship, where he scored three ducks in his seven innings, only averaging 12.86 and top-scoring with 66 away at Middlesex.

5 – Jack Pettiford (1954-1959)

A middle-order batsman and leg-spinner, Pettiford joined Kent in 1954 having signed a 5 year contract. The county’s fortunes were at a low ebb having finished near bottom of the Championship table in the previous three seasons.

The annual Committee reports mentioning Pettiford referred to many ‘staunch innings when they were needed’ (1958) and ‘a more valuable member of the side than figures indicate’ (1959).

Until Doug Wright retired, Pettiford probably suffered by being relegated to the role of second or, more often third, spinner. With Wright gone, he had his most productive seasons, 40 wickets at 24.22 in 1958, 44 at 35.22 in 1959 including 5 for 33 against Derbyshire at Canterbury in his Benefit match.

6 – Andrew Symonds (1999-2004)

Like Pettiford, Andrew “Roy” Symonds’ association with Kent spread across six seasons. He played 26 Tests across four years, top scoring with 162 not out against India in early 2008.

A strong player known for his explosive batting, Symonds featured in 126 games across three formats for Kent and despite being called up to Australia squads on a regular basis, Symonds cemented himself as Kent’s premier all-rounder for many years.

His 114 from 43 balls for the Kent Spitfires against Middlesex Crusaders at Mote Park remains the fastest ever T20 hundred scored in English county cricket, with his century coming from only 34 deliveries.

7 – Bransby Cooper (1868-1869)

Kent’s second ever overseas player, Cooper was born in Dacca (now Dhaka) in what was then India but is now Bangladesh, in 1844. Although he was a wicketkeeper, he did not keep wicket during his time at Kent.

He came to England as a boy and was educated at Rugby school. Despite being a fine sportsman with the right background, he did not go on to Oxford or Cambridge, but instead played cricket as an amateur for Middlesex from 1864 to 1867, and then turned out in 16 innings for Kent in 1868 and 1869, the year before the formation of the present county club, scoring 328 runs at 21.86. His top score for Kent of 83 came against Sussex at Hove in 1869.

In his career, he played for the MCC and the Gentlemen amateur team (where he made his debut alongside W.G. Grace). He played once for Australia, in 1877 in the first Test match of them all, being presented with Australian ‘baggy green’ number three and thus he became an overseas cricketer who had played for Kent.

8 – Marcus Stoinis (2018)

The only player in this list to have only played T20s for Kent, Stoinis came to The Spitfire Ground, St. Lawrence for the Vitality Blast last Summer as a bowling all-rounder capable of a high strike rate further down the order.

He played five matches for Kent, scoring 80 runs at 20.00, famously hitting a big six onto the top of the Frank Woolley Stand against Essex Eagles and also recording bowling figures of 4/17 in his only away fixture for Kent against Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl.

A mainstay in the current Australian limited-overs teams, Stoinis has featured in over 40 ODIs for the gold and green and was a part of Australia’s 2019 Cricket World Cup squad.

9 – Tom Wills  (1855-1856)

The player with probably the most ‘interesting’ story in this side, Tom Wills was born in Molonglo, now a suburb of Canberra, Australia in 1835. He was clearly from the outset a very talented sportsman and was often described as ‘the W.G. Grace of Australia’. Wills is regarded as the county’s first ever overseas player.

He played three times for ‘Kent’ across two years (the current club was not founded until 14 years after he left), only taking two wickets. On his return to Australia, he captained Victoria against George Parr’s touring England team in 1864, played against W.G. Grace’s touring party in 1874 and also found time during the winter months to help develop Australian Rules football, of which he is now considered a founding father.

He survived a massacre in October 1861, when aboriginals attacked a settlement at Cullin-la-Ringo, and his father and eighteen others were massacred. The Wills Tragedy, as it is often called, affected him greatly. He got married in 1864 (to a lady who was actually already married to someone else), but later descended into alcoholism and general mental disintegration, and stabbed himself to death with a pair of scissors in 1880.

10 – Duncan Spencer (1993-1994)

A bowler famous for his raw pace, Spencer was born in Lancashire but grew up in Perth, also playing for Western Australia.

His bowling spell for Kent against Viv Richards, who was playing for Glamorgan at the time, was televised live in 1993 and Richards later said that Spencer was the fastest bowler that he had ever faced in his career, putting Spencer on the map as a player.

Sadly, Spencer’s own career did not hit the heights that such a start might have promised. Persistent injury problems, headlined by chronic stress fractures in his back, not only blunted his effectiveness but also ensured that he did not add to the tally of 14 first-class matches that he played with Kent in 1993 and 1994 and with WA in 1993-94.

11 – Terry Alderman (1984 & 1986)

A Western Australia native, Terry Alderman played 40 first class matches for Kent, taking 174 wickets. In that first year of 1984, he took 76 wickets alone.

Alderman was distinguished by the constant smile on his face when he bowled, and by his impeccably aimed away-swingers and off-cutters delivered at an honest fast-medium clip that had their highest expression on the England tours of 1981 and 1989, yielding him more than 40 wickets both times.

He played 40 Tests for Australia, taking 170 wickets at 27.15. His bowling, like his smile, was inscrutable. He reduced Graham Gooch to such a shambles in 1989 that he asked to be left out of the Test team, a personal victory for Alderman that symbolised that series.

England Lions will face a touring Australian Test warm-up side at The Spitfire Ground, St. Lawrence from this Sunday, as the visitors gear up for the 2019 Specsavers Ashes Series against England.

Kent’s Zak Crawley has been selected as part of the Lions squad for this fixture at his home ground.

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