Kent CCC: Matt Walker looking for squad to learn quickly after opening County Championship defeat

PUBLISHED: 14:15 19 April 2018

Kent's Darren Stevens (left) coach Matt Walker, Vice Captain Joe Denly, coach Allan Donald and Will Gidman (right) (pic: Gareth Fuller/PA)

Kent's Darren Stevens (left) coach Matt Walker, Vice Captain Joe Denly, coach Allan Donald and Will Gidman (right) (pic: Gareth Fuller/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Kent beaten by Gloucestershire in season opener

Kent’s head coach Matt Walker wants his squad to learn “quick lessons” following their humbling home defeat to Gloucestershire in the opening round of this season’s Specsavers County Championship campaign.

In a game of 17 lbw decisions – which equalled the record for first-class matches involving Kent set against Warwickshire at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, in 2010 – Walker’s side were shot out in 18.5 overs after an uncontested toss and went on to muster only 217 runs in both innings. Moreover, the hosts collected a paltry three points from an opening Division 2 fixture that was completed well inside six sessions.

Reflecting on the disappointing five-wicket reverse in rain-soaked Canterbury earlier this week, Walker said: “You want to get off to a good start and sadly that hasn’t been the case for us with that defeat. But we’ve identified the areas where we feel we need to improve and we go up to Durham looking to do that pretty quickly.

“You won’t win too many games of cricket after being bowled out for 64 that’s for sure but we showed great character and fight after that to more-or-less stay in the game. We really needed to post a good score in our second innings but we didn’t do that and chasing 100-odd to win was always going to be a straightforward challenge for them, even on a pitch that was still doing plenty.

“We have talked about this a lot in recent years, that we look pretty good when we’re batting on decent wickets – as most teams do – but we need to find a way of posting competitive scores when conditions are tougher. And we need to find a way quickly.”

However, Walker says he did take some positives out of the season’s opener. He added: “Matt Henry has fitted in brilliantly, he’s taken to the group really quickly since arriving from New Zealand and deserved his seven wickets because he bowled beautifully against Gloucestershire.

“Daniel Bell-Drummond will take confidence from his 60-odd in our second innings and I felt Zak Crawley batted really nicely in both knocks too. He didn’t take a huge amount of runs away from the game, but the way he played was encouraging, he was calm at the crease, batted with good tempo and I thought that he looked the real deal.”

Kent travelled to Chester-le- Street on Thursday to prepare for Friday’s four-day clash with Durham at The Emirates Riverside. Their rookie all-rounder Grant Stewart – who signed his first professional deal with Kent last season – pulled up with a hamstring strain mid-over during the defeat to Gloucestershire and failed to make the trip north. He was replaced in a 12-man squad by hard-hitting left-handed batsman Alex Blake who, at the age of 29, will be hoping to make his 40th first-class appearance for Kent.

Durham will give a debut to Aiden Markram, the young opener who impressed in South Africa’s controversial recent series against Australia.

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