Rob Key reflects on his landmark 50th first-class century

Tuesday 24th September 2013

Men’s First Team

When opener Rob Key scored the 50th first-class century of his impressive career against Northamptonshire last week, Kent's former skipper also passed a thousand four-day runs for the season to prove his continued value at the top of the order.

Key is averaging more than 44 in this season's LV= County Championship and was one of two Kent batsmen to hit centuries at Wantage Road, alongside Brendan Nash.

Here, the 34-year-old talks to the Kent Cricket website about milestones, a tough campaign for the county and his hopes for next season.

Rob, let's start by talking about the milestones you reached against Northants. How pleasing was it to hit your 50th first-class century?

Well it's something that I hadn't really thought too much about, over the years, but I definitely became more aware the closer I got. When I got to 47 centuries, it was in my mind and I'm obviously delighted to get there because centuries aren't the easiest thing to come by. I'm not one that thinks too much about career milestones; I've always said that I will look back on such things when I finish. Having said that, when it came into my mind, I just wanted to reach the 50 centuries, as quickly as possible, and I'm delighted to have passed it so that I can now focus again on keep scoring runs for Kent.

It was also your 45th century for Kent. Again, that's some record and shows that you've scored runs over a good number of years. What does that milestone mean to you?

It obviously means a fair bit but I always think that I've been lucky to be a professional cricketer for the Club. People make a lot of what a player gives to a county but the county gives a great opportunity to us players too, so I would say it's pretty mutual. It's certainly been an honour to play for Kent.

Are you still enjoying it every bit as much?

Yes, in terms of scoring runs, there's nothing better in the game and I'm still enjoying all forms. I enjoy scoring hundreds and still hate getting out for a duck or for a low score. Hundreds are not easy to come by and I still enjoy the highs and despise the lows – like any cricketer.

With the changes in playing conditions, is it harder for batters to score runs now?

I think so, yes. I was talking to Owais Shah the other day and we both said that batters only scrape a thousand runs in today's game so it has definitely got tougher and the statistics show that. The bowling hasn't necessarily got any better but, before, people would get say 1,700 runs and they were coming up against two overseas bowlers as well as some of the best spinners in world cricket. Those guys aren't in our domestic game now so the conditions certainly make it tougher. No batter got a thousand runs in the second division last season and only a few managed it in the first division. It is tougher to be a top order batsman now than seven or eight years ago. I've been relatively injury free over the years and was pleased to reach a thousand runs this year. I'm happy to be a bit more experienced now because it's very hard for youngsters coming through. I've had some very good years, as well as some ordinary years, but I feel proud to have played for so long and for just the one county.

It's been different for you this season, not being captain, how have you found it?

It's certainly been a lot less time consuming so I've been able to concentrate more on my own game. It's not been our best summer and the whole side is disappointed by that. It's been a frustrating season but, I guess, a refreshing one for me, not being in charge. As a captain I reckon you spend 30% on your own game and 70% of the time working with others. This season I've just been able to concentrate on getting myself right and I've enjoyed that.

How would you assess your own career, so far?

I've been lucky to have played so many first-class matches and I've contributed to helping Kent win games of cricket. I've been here for all of my career and it's been good. It would be nice to finish by winning a few things. I would definitely like to do that. It's my goal to win a Championship. It might take a while but that would be the icing on the cake for me. I'm really enjoying it and I guess how long I go on for depends on how the body holds up. There are no issues at the moment so, touch wood, I will play on for a good while yet.

Finally, in addition to playing for Kent, you seem to be enjoying your time in the commentary box with Sky?

I love it. Sky are great to work for and there's very much a cricket dressing room environment, working for them. I'm lucky enough to still be playing cricket but I'm now enjoying sitting around and talking about the game too. They've used me at different times and I've covered all the different forms of the game. I've loved every minute – including working through the night on overseas coverage! For me, it's as good a job as one can have; watching and talking about a sport that we all love.