Cricket: Kent face Warwickshire in title showdown

PUBLISHED: 08:00 23 September 2018

Kent's Darren Stevens (left) coach Matt Walker, vice Captain Joe Denly, coach Allan Donald and Will Gidman (right) prepare for a team picture during the media day at the Spitfire Ground, Canterbury (pic Gareth Fuller/PA)

Kent's Darren Stevens (left) coach Matt Walker, vice Captain Joe Denly, coach Allan Donald and Will Gidman (right) prepare for a team picture during the media day at the Spitfire Ground, Canterbury (pic Gareth Fuller/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Kent travel to Birmingham for their Specsavers County Championship Division Two title showdown with Warwickshire starting on Monday.

Both sides have already clinched promotion, but the prestige of finishing top of the table will be up for grabs over four days in the second city and it couldn’t be tighter with Kent, ahead of Warwickshire on their number of wins, and both teams level with 219 points.

Sam Billings’ side will be aiming for an 11th Championship victory – their sixth in succession in red-ball cricket – if they are to pip the Bears for the title and Matt Walker, the head coach, believes his side have all to play for.

He said: “Winning the second division is now our goal, we celebrated promotion quietly, knowing that we had a one-off game to come with a trophy up for grabs at the end of it and that’s our driving forces going to Edgbaston.

“We’ve had two other chances to win silverware this season and missed out, we now have a third opportunity which is a very nice situation to be in. We go to Birmingham knowing that whoever wins takes the spoils, which is exciting.

“In some ways the pressure if off us now, so I just want the guys to go there, express themselves and do themselves justice. After that, it’s may the best team win.”

Looking back on Kent’s Championship campaign over the first 13 games, Walker added: “It was my message to the group after out T20 quarter final disappointment, I told them ‘let’s make sure we have something to show for all our good cricket so far’, and I’m delighted we’ve done that in a tough division.

“I’m very proud, it’s an overwhelming feeling and will take a little time to sink in. It’s one of those situations when you’ve worked so hard over six or seven months of the summer that, when you finally get your reward, it feels a little surreal.

“I’m proud of the boys, have been all summer because we’ve competed well in all formats and have played some brilliant cricket, so, to finally achieve something this year is very well deserved.

“It’s been a privilege to see the development of our young players and watch the team evolve, both culturally and as a cricket team. It’s been fascinating to witness.

“My biggest goal at the start of the year was to get the culture of the dressing room right and to start building the right environment that enabled people to breath, grow and move forward together as part of something special.

“Did I think it could happen this quickly? I’d have to admit it would be no, I felt this would be a ‘stepping-stone season’ but as it’s turned out, we’ve leapt about three stepping stones.”

Billings is likely to name an unchanged squad and will be without pace bowler Ivan Thomas who, after injuring his knee during net practice last week, has undergone surgery to rectify an anterior cruciate ligament tear.


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