Steve Watts, the ‘Voice of Kent Cricket’, on the return of crowds

Steve Watts, the ‘Voice of Kent Cricket’, on the return of crowds

Donkey’s years ago, I mean it was so long ago I don’t think ‘Stevo’ had made his first-class debut, I worked in radio. I started out covering Kent for BBC Radio Kent as a freelancer. In many ways, I’ve done a full lap of the track, and come full circle.

10 years ago Kent played a 40-over match on TV. The ECB arrived with all their posh sound kit and I was asked if I would be interested in covering some games in the T20 Blast as it was known then that were shown live on Sky.

It’s just progressed from there, to now doing England Internationals, Test matches and Vitality Blast Finals Day, which is just the best fun anyone could ever have! It’s a long day, but it’s a great day, and I’m paid to be there! Some people are just fortunate I guess.

I’ll be honest…lockdown was very tough. But plenty of people had it worse than I did. Just being at home all the time was so boring. When it snowed in February I sat in my local High Street on a bench in a pile of slush drinking a coffee. I just couldn’t bear to be indoors any longer.

What lockdown did give us was The Spitfire Sessions. It was an absolute pleasure to host those catching up with some people I did know and plenty of people from the past I’d never met. I’m convinced Asif Iqbal thinks he could still turn out in the Blast and lift the trophy as captain of the Kent Spitfires. He could well be right!

It was great fun working on the Live Stream of Blast matches last season too. David Fulton was an absolute pleasure to work with. I’m very pleased to see him back providing commentary again this year for those that can’t be with us at The Spitfire Ground St Lawrence. However nothing beats a live crowd. You just cannot replicate that atmosphere. If you heard the fake crowd noise on the football last season you will know exactly what I mean!

It’s a bit of a buzz to announce a player reaching 50 or 100 or Darren Stevens coming onto bowl and getting a huge cheer from a crowd. We may only have small numbers, but you wouldn’t know it from the noise so far in the two Blast matches we’ve had here. The best thing is just seeing people out enjoying themselves at live sport.

If I had to name a favourite Kent player, it would probably be Aravinda da Silva. Just that one season for Kent in the mid-90s but my, what an impact! Of the current squad, and I really don’t want to massage this ego any more, I would have to say ‘Stevo’. To be as good as ever at 45 is just incredible. If it were all to end tomorrow, what service he has given to Kent and to the game as a whole.

That said I love the opening partnership between ‘DBD’ and Joe. There’s nothing finer than a Joe Denly Cover Drive. Especially when he holds that pose! Wow that’s sexy! Questions will be asked in Parliament if I don’t mention Blakey! Because, well, he lives not too far from me.

I see absolutely no reason why Kent can’t do exceptionally well in this year’s Vitality Blast. They played some fantastic T20 cricket during the last two seasons, and there are some exciting players who we have yet to see pull on a Kent shirt this season. And just how many bowling options does DBD as the current captain have at his disposal?

We may only be two games in but Kent Spitfires have started brilliantly in this year’s Blast. Two very different victories. And just about every single player has chipped in with a vital contribution.