Match Preview: Kent Spitfires v Worcestershire Royals YB40

Tuesday 14th May 2013

Men’s First Team

Kent Spitfires v Worcestershire Royals

Yorkshire Bank 40 – Group A

15 May, 2013 – 4.40pm start

St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury

After a week of travelling, the Kent Spitfires welcome Worcestershire Royals – and the Sky Sports cameras – to Canterbury for a Yorkshire Bank 40 clash.

The season so far:

Kent are nicely placed in Group A after winning two of their first three fixtures in domestic cricket’s 40-over competition. They sit in second place on four points, two behind Nottinghamshire who have won three from three. The group leaders defeated Kent by seven wickets at Trent Bridge but the Spitfires bounced back in style, against Netherlands on Friday, in what was their first visit to Deventer.

A fine all-round bowling display ensured victory for James Tredwell’s side with the captain himself leading from the front; returning figures of 4-22 to help bundle the hosts out for 101. Darren Stevens (3-19) and Matt Coles (2-5) also helped dismantle the Dutch as Kent enjoyed their jaunt across Europe. Despite losing Sam Billings early, Brendan Nash continued his fine early season form, scoring a composed 45 not-out, and a 49 run stand with Ben Harmison (17*) saw the Spitfires through to a comfortable seven-wicket victory.

Worcestershire are currently lying in fourth place in Group A, having won and lost a game apiece. The Royals made an impressive start in their season opener, brushing Sussex Sharks aside, but they then succumbed to Notts by five-wickets in a rain affected clash at New Road. With the match reduced to just 16 overs per side, the hosts were soon struggling at 52 for five before Gareth Andrew launched a brutal counter-attack. The all-rounder smashed 62 off just 34 balls in a knock that included eight fours and two sixes. The hitting took Daryl Mitchell’s side up to a competitive 132 for five but the Outlaws reached their target. Batsman Alex Hales, an England t20 star, led from the front – cracking 72 off just 41 balls to help the table-toppers to glory.

Previous meetings:

The Royals last visited Canterbury for a 40-over fixture in 2011 when they claimed a six-wicket success with just three balls to spare. Kent batted first in the CB40 Group A fixture and posted 232 for eight after Martin van Jaarsveld scored a run-a-ball 81. The South African received decent support from Stevens (41) but the total always looked below-par and it proved to be the case. Half-centuries from Vikram Solanki and Alex Kervezee led the Worcestershire run-chase and despite Adam Riley claiming two wickets James Cameron rushed the Pears to victory, striking 31 from 24 balls.

The two teams have met 47 times in limited overs cricket in the county with Kent taking victories on 23 occasions.

Players to watch:

Kent all-rounder Darren Stevens showed his worth with the ball against the Netherlands, taking three wickets, as his side cruised to victory. Scores of 15, 10 and 11 with the bat haven't done justice to his undoubted talent but one big score could change all that and the belligerent right-hander is due one.

Royals skipper Daryl Mitchell is an important player for the visitors and he outlined his worth in their campaign opener when he smashed 107 to see off the much-fancied Sussex. His medium-pacers are also utilised to great effect in the middle-overs.

Pre-match chat:

Victory over the Dutch was an important one for Kent and wicketkeeper Geraint Jones was impressed with the way his team-mates applied themselves on a tricky wicket: “We did well over there because it was a difficult wicket. We won the toss and bowled first, which was key as it gave us an idea on how it was playing. We did a professional job to bowl them out for a hundred and then didn't let up. We were good in the field again; we have been in all our limited-overs matches this season. It was a potential banana skin, because they have some quality players, and we lost last year to the Unicorns so we didn't want a repeat and we were desperate to make it two wins from three.

“I was pleased with the attitude that we all showed. Once we got a few early wickets, we were determined not to let them back into the game as we knew there was a big opportunity to go on and secure victory. We knew that it would be tricky to chase down a big total so we were pleased to bowl them out relatively cheaply. Then, when we batted, Nashy (Brendan Nash) applied himself, which is exactly what you want. His partnership with Harmy (Ben Harmison) calmed any nerves and helped us through to victory.”

Kent are nicely placed in Group A after the early exchanges and Jones knows that if the Spitfires keep up the momentum they can be in the mix for qualification to the final-four. “We are in contention after getting those two early wins. The Warwickshire victory was fantastic and we played some good cricket. I guess the Notts defeat was a bit disappointing but we were undone by Duckworth/Lewis and the weather changed the pitch. Having said that, the early signs are promising. We have done pretty well in each of our three games and we just want to carry it on. We have been able to bring some of the youngsters into the side and it has changed the team a bit. It certainly gives it a fresh injection of energy. If we can carry that on, we have a good chance of doing well in the group.”

The experienced gloveman was named Kent’s vice-captain ahead of the 2013 season and is clearly thriving playing his part alongside the new captain: “I guess I am probably getting a fraction more involvement this season. With Tredy (James Tredwell) set to be away for periods of time over the summer, in order for transition, it's easier for me to play my part. I have certainly had a bit more involvement and it's proving very enjoyable. I know that I can carry on with the ideas and the good work that Tredy has put in place – if and when I'm needed.”

Jones has been hitting the ball cleanly so far this season and 39 off 21 balls against Notts outlined his impressive early season form. The right-hander is keen to continue that against a Worcestershire side who he feels will provide tough opposition: “I've played nicely so far and have scored a couple of 50s, plus the knock against Notts. I've set myself a target of consistency, especially during the early part of the season when the wickets can be tricky. I'm pleased with the way things are going but I'm conscious that there is still lots of time to go, between now and the end of the season, so it's key to keep the form going all the way through.

“They are a side we don't know too much about as we haven't really come up against them so they will be a bit of an unknown quantity. Having said that, we have done all the research and watched the videos. They will have a bit of confidence because of the way they've been playing. It will be tough but we are all looking forward to it as it’s nice to come up against a team that we haven't played for a while.”

Kent fared well in front of the Sky cameras last year and Jones was quick to reveal that some of the players are only too happy to reveal their vain side when the spotlight is firmly on them: “It's always good to have the Sky television cameras there and I think it seems to inspire us; especially some of the younger lads. Their hairstyles all seem to change for the big day and I think they love the limelight! Jimmy (Adams) said last year that he wished all of our games were on television because it does seem to inspire us. Let's hope that proves to be the case once again this year.”

Team news:

Kent Spitfires: Rob Key, Sam Billings, Ben Harmison, Brendan Nash, Darren Stevens, Geraint Jones, Adam Ball, Adam Riley, Matt Coles, James Tredwell, Mark Davies, Mike Powell