Team Kent looking for success on three fronts tomorrow

Thursday 10th September 2009

It could be a weekend to remember for Kent cricket. Victory for the Spitfires, against old rivals Warwickshire Bears, will move them to within one win of the NatWest Pro40 title while Kent Women and Kent Under 17“s will win trophies if they are victorious in their respective matches. The women need just one point, against bitter rivals Sussex, to win the LV County Championship while the U17“s could make it a league and cup double with victory over Durham in the ECB County Cup Final.

Batsman Lydia Greenway (pictured) is a key part of the Kent side. The left-hander was a member of the England team which retained the Ashes, on their tour of Australia, in 2008 and won the World Cup and World Twenty20 Championship in 2009. She cannot wait for the action to begin at the Nevill Ground in Tunbridge Wells: “Sunday is going to be special. We only need a point against Sussex but they will make it tough for us. They have the likes of Sarah Taylor, Holly Colvin and Laura Marsh in their side. On paper, I would say they are the stronger side but we have played some good cricket this year and are determined to finish it off with a win and the title.”

So what has pleased Lydia most about this season? “I think it would be wrong to look at individual performances because we have played well as a unit. We“ve got a really good team and have performed well throughout the year. Everyone seems to know their role despite us being such a young side. I guess we are still learning as a team but Charlotte (Edwards) is a great captain for us. She leads by example and all of the players respect her.”

Lydia has shown her qualities at international level, with England, so how much tougher is it playing for the national side? “Well it“s naturally harder because you are playing against the best players in the world. Saying that, the County Championship is a pretty tough standard too. We go County Champs, Club County Super 4“s and then international level. The standard is definitely on the up and players and constantly progressing and improving as individuals.”

Aside from playing cricket, Lydia coaches the next generation. She works for the Kent Cricket Board, delivering the Chance to Shine project and really enjoys helping the emerging players: “Yeah it“s been really good for me. Before the international season started, we were working in our own county and travelling all over England looking for some good young players. It is important to reach the girls we haven“t had contact with. I went to Wales, Hereford and Northamptonshire; it was enjoyable. We are trying to get contact time with girls who want to improve their cricket. It“s proving successful.”

And what does Lydia think about the popularity of the women“s game? “There is certainly a lot more interest in the game now. When I got back from the World Cup, it was amazing. People were coming up to me and saying that I stayed up to watch you in action. It was quite shocking really and very pleasing. It was also great to play before the men in the World T20 Final. We beat Australia and loads of people seemed to watch. Getting that sort of exposure has certainly added value to our game.”

Lydia had one final word for the Kent supporters ahead of their biggest game of the season: “I know the men are playing on Sunday but it would be good to see as many people as possible at the Nevill Ground in Tunbridge Wells. It“s the top two sides and we need only one bonus point to regain the trophy that we won in 2006 and 2007. Hopefully a good few will come, watch and help us to victory!”

Meanwhile the Kent under-17“s will aim to make it a league and cup double when they play Durham in the ECB County Cup Final at Caythorpe CC in Nottinghamshire on Sunday. The two teams recently met to decide who would lift the County Championship title and Kent were comfortable winners; triumphing by 171 runs at Arundel.

Durham earned their place in the final after beating Yorkshire in the semi-final on Monday in Scarborough. Kent have ambitions of completing a wonderful league and cup double. Steve Salisbury“s side swept past Surrey in their semi-final, knocking off the required 178 in just 28.2 overs thanks to half-centuries from Chris Vernon and Chris Piesley. Earlier in the day Fabian Cowdrey took 6-17 to end Surrey’s hopes of posting a defendable total.

Commenting on the big game, Jamie Clifford, Director of Cricket Development for the Kent Cricket Board, said: “Good luck to the Under-17“s. They have enjoyed a fine season so full credit to the coaching team for making them such a competitive side. As a Club, home grown cricketers are very much on the up. Joe Denly has broken into the England team, Sam Northeast has performed impressively for the first-team this season and several of our youngsters have shown their quality in the NatWest Pro40 team. We are very fortunate to have such good players coming through. These guys are the future of Kent cricket and everyone is enthused with how things are progressing.”

Picture:Getty Images