McLaren returns as Kent aim to win Championship title

Monday 14th September 2009

Kent can win the LV County Championship title this week, with victory over Leicestershire at the St Lawrence Ground in Canterbury.

Kent, who have already sealed promotion back to Division One, head the table by a mammoth 36 points. Their hopes are raised with the return of Ryan McLaren (pictured). The key all-rounder has been out for the past six weeks with a side strain but is now fit to return to action and replaces Azhar Mahmood in the only change from last week“s 10 wicket win over Middlesex.

Director of Cricket, Graham Ford, is clearly delighted that Kent have earned promotion but now wants to go on and win the title: “I“m over the moon because I know what a huge effort the lads have put in. After going down last season, the prime objective was to put matters right this season and the players got really stuck in. We have spent lots of time this season without an overseas player and everyone has worked very hard. We have also had to do without the likes of Ryan McLaren and Rob Joseph for many key matches. It has been massive and I cannot say enough about how much effort has been put in; especially towards the end of the summer when fatigue sets in. We“ve played really well throughout the summer.”

Kent have won eight of their 14 Championship matches and Ford is full of admiration for that win ratio: “Getting all of the victories is obviously very special for all concerned and sends out a message, to a lot of people, that we are a good side; a side that well and truly deserves to be in the top flight of the County Championship.”

Kent play their penultimate Championship game against Leicestershire and Ford believes they are an underrated side: “They“ve got some very good players and we are well aware of the threats that they possess. Their captain, Boeta Dippenaar, is a great player. He was in the South African national team when I was coaching. Young James Taylor is another fine player. He made runs against us in the Pro40 and looks an exciting talent. They have a couple of other real experienced members; guys like Claude Henderson and Paul Nixon, who used to play here. When you add everything together, you can see they have the ability to play good cricket.”

What does Ford think of the positive support that members and fans have shown throughout the season? “There“s been some amazingly loyal support. Kent cricket fans have got behind the players and this has allowed them to perform with smiles on their faces.”

And how much of a lift will Ryan McLaren“s return give the team? “It will give us a huge lift because we“ve really missed him. He adds so much because he is a classy bowler, brilliant in the field and more than handy with the bat. He brings an awful lot to the party and we are delighted that he is back. He has been as frustrated as can be on the sidelines and is so pleased to be able to put on the Kent shirt again and get out there and play.”

Kent have named a 12-man squad for the game. McLaren returns in place of the rested Azhar Mahmood. The full 12 is as follows: Key (C), Northeast, Jones (W), van Jaarsveld, Stevens, Kemp, McLaren, Blake, Tredwell, Cook, Ferley, Khan

Picture: Getty Images