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LV County Championship preview: Kent v Derbyshire

Wednesday 29th July 2009

IT“S first against second as Kent“s cricketers return to LV County Championship action tomorrow at Canterbury. Kent lead the Division Two table by five points from Derbyshire, who have played a game more. It will be the first four-day meeting between the two sides at the St Lawrence Ground in nine years. Wicketkeeper Geraint Jones (pictured)says, because of this, it is fairly difficult to assess their opponents: “Derbyshire are another team we haven“t played for years in the Championship so we don“t really know what to expect. Looking at their team, they don“t really have any superstars. But they obviously combine well and have a team full of good all-round ability. They don“t seem to rely on individuals. They do it as a team.”

Jones is clearly looking forward to the game and says Kent go into it in good form: “Things are coming together nicely and we are playing well as a group. Joe“s just come off scoring three hundreds, Keysy has just hit back-to-back hundreds, Justin Kemp has hit form and the bowlers are in going well too. We“ve played Derbyshire mainly in one-day cricket, and had success against them. It will be tough but we fully expect to win the game.”

Promoted up the order, to bat at no 3, Jones has enjoyed a good first-half to the season and now wants to continue his impressive form until the end of the season: “I“ve enjoyed a good start and to have nearly 600 runs, with eight games to go, so its pleasing. You need your number three batsman scoring runs and I“ve done that this season. The main goal for me now is to finish the season off, the way I started, and get at least a thousand runs.”

So is it not difficult – keeping and then going in at three on a regular basis? “No, not really. I enjoy it and it“s not as if I don“t know what I“m doing at the start of the game. I“ve either got on my wicket keeping or batting pads and when I come off the field I know I can quickly change from mode to mode. I guess you“ve got to be fairly fit, and injury free, to do what I do but I“m enjoying it. I“ve enjoyed batting regularly as I get the opportunity to do that up the order. I“m very much enjoying it.”

Earlier today it was confirmed that overseas star Wayne Parnell will return to Kent for Twenty20 Finals Day. Jones is delighted that a deal has been struck to get the left-arm bowler back for a third spell at St Lawrence: “Wayne has shown, in the few games he has been with us, just how good a player he is. It“s scary because he has only just turned 20 and could have 15 years of international cricket ahead of him.”

With less than half of the season to go, Kent are still in the hunt for three trophies and Jones sees no reason why then cannot win them all: “I“d like to see us win the remaining three trophies available and I think we are good enough to do that with our team. We stand a good chance at Twenty20 Finals Day because we have been there two years before so we know what to expect. We are top of the Championship, at the halfway stage, and we feel like we are now playing our best cricket so it certainly bodes well. Our one-day side is very strong so we also stand a good chance in the NatWest Pro40 too. I would say our chances in all three are pretty good because we are hitting our best form at a crucial time.”

Kent have named a 12-man squad for the game. Amjad Khan and Paul Dixey come in for Azhar Mahmood and James Hockley.

Key (C), Denly, Jones (W), van Jaarsveld, Stevens, Kemp, Tredwell, Parnell, McLaren, Cook, Khan, Dixey

Picture: Getty Images