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Match Preview: Kent v Unicorns CB40, Sunday 20th May

Friday 18th May 2012

Men’s First Team

Kent Spitfires v Unicorns, CB40 – Group C

St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury, Sunday, 20th May 2012

Kent Spitfires resume their CB40 Group C qualifying campaign this Sunday when they welcome the Unicorns to the St Lawrence Ground for the first ever time.

The Spitfires have never been paired up against the ECB Recreational XI, since their inception into the CB40 competition in 2010. The Unicorns team consists of county players looking for a contract with a first class county and they have already achieved several notable scalps. Their current team includes former Kent fast-bowler Warren Lee, Luis Reece – the all-rounder who claimed seven wickets against Sussex for Leeds and Bradford UCCE – and captain Keith Parsons – the former Somerset all-rounder.

Rob Key’s side got their CB40 campaign off to a flying start, a couple of weeks ago, when they brushed aside Yorkshire Carnegie at Headingley. Pace bowler Matt Coles celebrated his call-up to the England Lions squad by tearing through the hosts’ batting line-up. The all-rounder took out Australian Phil Jacques and Gary Ballance for first-ball ducks, on his way to sealing fine figures of 6-32, as the home side could only muster 175-9.

The run-chase was well paced as Key (40) and the talented Sam Billings (26) put on 57 for the opening wicket before a fluent half-century from Darren Stevens led the visitors to the brink of victory. His dismissal, with 17 runs still needed, sparked a minor stumble, but Geraint Jones kept his cool to seal a four-wicket win in the final over. The win is Kent’s only outing in this tournament to-date, the Unicorns on the other hand are still searching for their first win after three fixtures.

A defeat in their season opener against Derbyshire was followed by a wash-out at Northants before another defeat, this time at the hands of Sussex Sharks. It leaves them second from bottom in Group C on one point. The match at Hove was very much one-sided as the Sharks piled up 291 for three, batting first, with Ed Joyce and Matt Machan smashing quickfire centuries. Only ex-Kent bowler Lee kept things in check by returning 1-39 from his eight overs – a fine effort considering the carnage going on around him. The Unicorns could only limp to 147 for nine in reply with skipper Parsons (32) and former Leicestershire wicketkeeper Tom New (28) the only two who put up any real fight. Chris Nash took 3-29 for the home side with his effective off-spin.

For differing reasons, Sunday’s clash at the St Lawrence Ground is a must-win for both sides so please come along to show your support for the Spitfires. The Club is offering a special ‘Kids for a Quid’ deal for children aged 5 to 16. Tickets can be booked online or purchased on the gate, with a healthy attendance expected – click here for tickets.

There will be lots of family activity on the day with; bouncy castles, face painting, activities in the football cage and Victa giving out his stickers. Don’t forget after the match you can collect the latest poster and meet all the players in the autograph session. Adults pre-buy ground entry £15, Woolley Stand £20 (£5 more for both when gates open at 11.45am).

Supporters are encouraged to wear dotty clothing and accessories to this match to support Demelza's 'Go Dotty for Demelza' campaign. Staff from Demelza Children's Hospice will be selling dotty accessories and collecting donations during the match.

This will be Kent Spitfires' first home CB40 match in their new season kit. If you'd like to support the boys, you can pick upyour own CB40 kit from the Kent Cricket Shop or purchase online – click here

Team News:

Kent are likely to make changes from the side that is currently taking on Northants in the LV= CC. Opener Sam Billings looks set to continue his role at the top of the innings and batsmen Sam Northeast and Alex Blake could come into the middle-order. England under-19 captain Adam Ball is also likely to feature. Azhar Mahmood is still away on IPL duty with the Kings XI Punjab. His arrival back depends on whether his side qualifies for the IPL play-offs held next weekend. They are currently just outside the top-four, with a game to play. Left-arm seam bowler Ash Shaw is making good progress as he continues to recover from shin surgery.

Unicorns, coached by Phil Oliver and Steve Perryman, have a 29 man squad to choose from with Lee hoping to play against his former county.

Photo Sarah Ansell