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Match Preview – Sussex Sharks v Kent Spitfires, Yorkshire Bank 40

Saturday 25th May 2013

Men’s First Team

The Kent Spitfires return to Yorkshire Bank 40 action this weekend well placed in Group A, but a trip to Horsham on Sunday to take on Sussex Sharks could prove to be their toughest task yet. The match is being played at the Cricket Field Road Ground, Horsham, 1.45pm start.

The season so far:

Kent currently sit in second place in their qualifying group with the top side guaranteed a place in the semi-finals. James Tredwell’s men have won three from four and have played their best cricket in this season’s competition. Wins against Warwickshire, the Netherlands and Worcestershire were slightly tempered by defeat against Nottinghamshire but the Spitfires are undoubtedly in good form in the 40-over competition.

Last time out the Club welcomed Worcestershire Royals to Canterbury and the Sky Sports viewers were treated to a low-scoring thriller. With rain reducing the game to 25 overs per side, Kent looked well on top at the halfway stage, having restricted the visitors to 110-9. Matt Coles made the best use of damp conditions, returning 4-20, and was ably assisted by Mark Davies (2-14). The total did however soon look a good one when left-armer Jack Shantry (3-11) quickly helped put Kent in major trouble at 45 for six. The Spitfires kept their nerve though through the experience of captain Tredwell (42 not out) and vice–captain Geraint Jones (30). They put on 47 for the seventh wicket and despite Jones holing out late on, Tredwell was there at the end to guide his troops to a crucial three-wicket success.

Sussex are hot on the tails of Kent in third place but the South Coast outfit have been thwarted by rain – suffering two washouts from four matches. The Sharks did show their class in their last completed game by brushing Northants aside by 61 runs. Sussex batted first and were in trouble at 12-3 before Chris Nash (95) and skipper Ed Joyce (90) put on 173 for the fourth wicket to see them up to a respectable 215 for seven. More rain meant Northants faced a revised target but they never got close. Quick bowlers Chris Liddle and Chris Jordan took three wickets each as the home side subsided to 122-9 to give Sussex the points.

Previous meetings:

The two sides have met only once before in limited overs cricket at Horsham and it was the hosts who ran out winners in a 1997 AXA Life Sunday League game. Kent batted first and posted 220 for nine from their 40 overs with Matt Walker (60), Alan Wells – against his former county (45) – and Graham Cowdrey (39) in the runs. Leg-spinner Aamer Khan returned 5-40 for Sussex.

Bill Athey’s century led the reply for the home side. The opener struck an unbeaten 109 to see his side through to a four-wicket win with just three balls to spare. Cowdrey took two wickets to complete a fine individual match but ultimately Sussex took the honours.

Players to watch:

Batting all-rounder Ben Harmison has had a difficult start to his Kent career but a maiden county half-century against Essex this week coupled with YB40 runs against Nottinghamshire has shown glimpses of his undoubted talent. The former Durham man can also bowl some useful overs. If he gets both disciplines right then he could become an important limited-overs player for the Spitfires.

With a raft of quick bowlers ahead of him, left-armer Chris Liddle is often restricted to limited-overs cricket for the Sharks but he certainly makes the most of his opportunities. The 29 year-old has taken 56 List A wickets at an average of just 25 making him a definite threat, especially in the death overs.

Pre-match chat:

Spitfires skipper James Tredwell is looking forward to making his Horsham debut, during Festival Week, but it well aware of the tough task ahead:

“I've not played there so it will be a new ground for me and many of the other boys too, I'm sure. It will be difficult because Sussex are always good on their own patch. Games against them are always keenly contested. They are a top side in all forms of the game so it will be far from easy.”

Spinner Tredwell spoke ahead of the final day of Kent’s current LV=CC fixture against Essex when Darren Stevens and Ben Harmison were in the runs to help rescue Kent from 44-3 and help the team avoid a repeat of the recent Worcestershire defeat. The captain was delighted with the way the two dug in:

“After a little bit of a wobble, we did okay and recovered so we will look to continue in a similar fashion. Stevo (Darren Stevens) and Harmy (Ben Harmison) got us out of a sticky situation and it was good to see both of them put good scores on the board. We could have folded at 40 for four but the lads rolled up their sleeves and showed fight on a tough wicket. Its been hard work in the Championship. We've come up against two bowlers in top form (Trent Copeland for Northants and Alan Richardson for Worcestershire) so they deserve lots of credit too.”

Kent narrowly missed out on a semi-final place in the CB40 competition last season and early indications show they will be in the running again this year. Tredwell is happy with their progression in the competition and wants to keep the momentum going:

“We are in good form in one-day cricket and have played on some tough pitches. To record three wins from four is encouraging and we are in a good place going into back-to-back matches.”