Paul Farbrace previews the upcoming week with four big games

Thursday 26th August 2010

With a gruelling 2010 domestic campaign drawing to a close, Kent“s cricketers still have plenty to play for with LV=CC division one survival a priority and Clydesdale Bank 40 qualification still a possibility. Here team director Paul Farbrace (pictured)talks to the club website about the run-in and praises the impact that some of the youngsters have made this season.

From Sunday, when the Spitfires travel to the Rose Bowl to take on Hampshire, Rob Key“s men have four games in seven days – all at different venues meaning a longer period of time on the road, and whilst Farbrace says it“s not ideal he is confident that preparation has been spot-on: “The schedule isn“t ideal but the key thing is that we“ve had a week off to prepare. The big game is at Edgbaston on Tuesday. Most of our focus will be on that game but we will still be fully committed to trying to win at Hampshire and Leicestershire. We are on a bit of a role in the CB40 competition and want to finish off strongly in both of the competitions that we are still involved in. It isn“t great for us that we“ve got to play at four venues, in seven days, and it will take a lot out of the boys. Still, we are not making excuses. We have prepared well for the big week and it is a huge game for us in the championship at Warwickshire. As coaching staff, we have managed things well so far and that will continue when we are on the road.”

In division one of the LV=CC, Kent currently sit in sixth position with three games to play, and despite relegation still being a threat, Farbrace insists confidence is high within the camp and the players are looking upwards rather than down: “Warwickshire (our four-day game from next Tuesday) is huge for us but it is important to keep things in context. We have still got two championship games after the trip to Edgbaston so our destiny is in our own hands. Essex have only got two games left so I would much prefer to be in our position than theirs. We are just thinking about how high we finish – not survival. We have never talked in that way. We know we are a good side and have played some good cricket over the last couple of weeks – ever since the end of t20. We have put on some good performances and if it wasn“t for one or two dropped catches, and a couple of poor sessions, then we might be even higher up the table. We are confident going into the four matches as we have shown that we are capable of beating the better sides in recent times. The boys performed well against Nottinghamshire (last Sunday in the CB40) so we go into it positive. If we can put out something near our best side for the four games then I will back us to enjoy a good week.”

Injuries have hampered Kent“s campaign, especially in the bowling department, and Farbrace revealed that both Ashley Shaw and Robbie Joseph will miss the rest of the season. Despite this, the St Lawrence outfit will have veteran Azhar Mahmood available for the final push and the team director is well aware of his importance in the side: “Both of them (Shaw and Joseph) are out of the frame so we are two bowlers down straightaway. Hopefully everyone else will make the trip. Azhar will be rested for the two CB40 matches but we want him to play in the championship game. He is a key player for us; both with bat and ball so hopefully he will feature. Both Ashley and Robbie will miss the rest of the season as they have operations lined up for next month. Ashley is having an operation to clear up shin splints while a surgeon is going back into Robbie“s shoulder to have a look. Hopefully it will get them both right for next season.”

After a winter of change at Canterbury, Kent have had to rely on several youngsters that have made their way through the famed St Lawrence pathway for young cricketers. All of them have played their part in a tough season and Farbrace was quick to praise them, especially the emergence of Matt Coles, but was wary about relying on them too much: “Ideally you wouldn“t want to play more than one youngster at any one time but it has been needs must this season. You want experienced players but it isn“t always possible and we have benefitted from giving some of the younger players an opportunity; for instance, Matt Coles. He has gone from being someone who we didn“t pick for the first t20 game to someone who we couldn“t afford not to pick at the end of the competition. He scored a superb 50 against Lancashire last Saturday in the championship and then followed it up with figures of 3-7 on the Sunday. He has come on leaps and bounds this season. The performances of Alex Blake continue to impress and Sam is getting better and better, as his sparkling century for the second team proved earlier this week. The young players are getting better and better, which is good for us and great for them too.”