My News Story

Saturday 18th April 2009

Kent’s cricketers begin their LV County Championship season on Tuesday with a home game against Northamptonshire at Canterbury. It will be the first time Kent has played in division two of the competition since the inception of two-division cricket. To preview the new season, Jamie Reid speaks to Kent skipper Rob Key.

JR: Rob, firstly good luck for the new season. What are the aims for Kent?

RK: Well firstly, I guess, it will be nice not to be in the second division of the Championship at the end of the season. We went close in all competitions last year but things didn’t go our way and it ended in disappointment. We suffered relegation but hopefully we can put that right and go straight back up.

JR: As you mentioned, you challenged for everything last summer. Will you look to do that again or be more selective?

RK: I think we will look to be a bit more selective although that’s not to say that we don’t want to win every competition we enter. We have a good group of players but it’s a small group too, so we will certainly look to be a bit more selective and skilful with some of our decisions throughout the year.

JR: Things haven’t started too well with injuries and a lack of some first-choice players. No Graham Ford, no Justin Kent and no Ryan McLaren as yet. You also have one or two injury concerns. How much of a worry is that?

RK: Well things are certainly becoming harder and harder with county cricket. Last year we faced lots of problems with Kempy and all the ICL issues. We didn“t know if we would be allowed to enter certain competitions and it become incredibly difficult for us. Without doubt, cricket is becoming more complicated. For a variety of reasons, it is becoming much harder to get people into the country. Obviously I understand the reasons why but it’s certainly frustrating for all of us at Kent.

JR: What did last year teach you?

RK: As I’ve said all along, it was easy to see where we went wrong last summer. There were lots of unforced errors. We bowled far too many no balls and the extras column was very costly throughout the year. We also didn’t score enough runs as a team. The good thing for me is that we all know how we can improve and we all want to improve. Cricket is a team game but you obviously need individuals to perform so hopefully we will be able to do that throughout the season and that should make a big difference.

JR: Personally will you hope for a better season because – by your own high standards – you didn’t enjoy a great summer in 2008. Would you agree?

RK: Yes, totally. I didn’t score as many runs as I should’ve done. I know I can bring more to the team and I am determined to do that this year. I enjoyed a good tour of New Zealand with the England Lions and I’m feeling good going into the new season.

JR: What about England, do you still have aspirations to get back in the national side?

RK: Yes, of course. It is always a great honour to be included in the England side and I hope I will get back in. I still feel that my best years are ahead of me so hopefully I will score plenty of runs for Kent and force my way into the national side.

JR: People have talked about you as a future England captain. They feel that you are good enough to skipper the side; both in Test matches and limited overs cricket. How pleasing is it to be linked with the top job?

RK: Well it’s obviously very pleasing for me. I’ve never really spoken to the selectors about the job but it would obviously be very nice. People have backed me as a potential England Twenty20 captain and that’s encouraging. I’ve captained the England Lions and the England A teams so I certainly have the experience. It’s always nice to get recognition and to hear people saying that you are good enough to captain England. It would be a tremendous opportunity for me but it’s only speculation at this stage.

JR: Your captaincy continues to gain great plaudits. Have you surprised yourself just how well you have adapted to the role?

RK: Yes and no. I always wanted to be a captain and I was delighted to get the opportunity to lead Kent. I would like to think that I’ve done a pretty good job so far but I still want to achieve lots more.

JR: You start the LV County Championship season with a home match against Northamptonshire. What do you know about them as opponents?

RK: We know more than enough about them. Admittedly we haven’t played them that often over the last few years but we have done our homework and we hope to come out all guns blazing. Sadly we won’t be at full strength but we will be totally committed as we want to start in style.

JR: You have been installed as favourites for an instant return to Division One in the Championship. Would you agree with the bookmakers?

RK: The aim for Kent is to get straight back into the top division. We know that we have a good side and we know that we must start well. Over the years we haven’t got off to good starts but we are keen to get up and running this year. We will be using different balls this summer, we are in a different division but hopefully it will be an exciting year for everyone.

JR: Are you pleased that you start at Canterbury?

RK: It’s always nice to start at home. We get good backing from our supporters. Hopefully they will get right behind us and help us get off to a good start. The weather wasn’t overly kind to us last summer so hopefully things will be better this year and I hope that we will get plenty of action; both in this match and across the season.

JR: With a new groundsman in place, do you expect the wickets to be different this summer?

RK: I’m not sure that we will see an instant change although there has already been a different vibe throughout pre-season. The nets have been fantastic. It’s not easy for the new man, Andy Peirson, to come in and make an instant impact but things are improving and that will certainly help us going forward.

JR: Fast-bowler Steffan Jones has joined on loan. Will he play a part in the game?

RK: Yes, Steff will play. In the Loughborough game we were really struggling for numbers. Rob Joseph, Simon Cook and Martin Saggers all missed the game through injury so we were down to the bare bones. If we had to bowl at Loughborough then Academy youngster Matt Coles and Darren Stevens would’ve had to open the bowling because Phil Edwards was away on compassionate leave. Hopefully Saggers will be fit for the Northants game because Joseph and Cook are both still struggling.

JR: What about an overseas player – what are the chances of bringing someone in for Tuesday?

RK: We are working hard; trying to bring in a new overseas player although I think this game has come too early for us. I’m hopeful that we will get something sorted soon although I would be surprised if anyone is here for the Northants game.

JR: Finally, any developments with Graham Ford and Justin Kemp? When can we expect to see them back in the county?

RK: Hopefully we will see them back very soon. I’m hopeful that Justin will be here on Tuesday although he won’t play in the Northants game. The news isn’t so good with Fordie. I know everyone is working hard trying to get him back into the country but it is proving very difficult. I don’t want to make excuses but it doesn’t help that he isn’t here with us. Hopefully we will get him back soon because he is a key part of what we are doing here.