To win games of County Championship cricket you need the critical moments to go your way and the Kent side enjoyed such a key turning point during our recent victory over Essex at Canterbury.
Ravi Bopara has been in good form of late and, having played himself in, he looked capable of producing a big innings in what was proving to be a relatively low-scoring game.
Having had a chat with Simon Cook, ‘Keysie’ shouted over for me to come up to the stumps, which is something I do a lot in one-day cricket but less so in the Championship.
We knew Ravi was the crucial wicket for us to get, so the plan was to stand up to the sumps, keep him back in his crease and put some more pressure on him.
I’d only been stood up for a few deliveries when that key moment happened. He slightly lost balance after playing and missing, momentarily switched feet and I completed the stumping.
The ball still has to get past the bat and so Cookie deserves a lot of the credit for the delivery he produced to beat Ravi. It held its own up the slope and bounced, and then it was my job to catch it and whip off the bails.
It was very pleasing to get the wicket and then follow it up with a crucial victory. They are the moments you work hard for every morning at practice and when they come off that quickly, when the plans fall into place so obviously, you really are delighted because you know they change matches.
The move to switch me in the batting order from No3 to No5, meanwhile, also seems to have paid dividends too (with 99 against Essex and a career-best 178 versus Somerset).
‘Keysie’ approached me about it after my knock over in Taunton because he felt the middle-order needed some bolstering. There was also the issue that Sam Northeast, who has always batted up the order, was struggling with the waiting around involved in being at No5.
To be fair, me going in at No3 had proved tough this season anyway. Last year I scored early runs and maintained a great rhythm throughout the season, but this year, nothing has really clicked until now.
There is a greater depth of quality to the bowling attacks in the first division and personally I just haven’t felt happy with the way I’ve felt at the crease all summer. Some people will think it’s too hard for me at No3 in the top division, and I’ve asked those things of myself, but I just haven’t felt as still at the crease as I was.
It’s not that I feel out of depth there, it’s just that I haven’t felt in great touch. I felt things starting to click against Essex but that was the first time in my life that I’ve ever got out on 99. For me the disappointment was that there was a much bigger score there for a taking, not that I’d missed out on a single to take me to three figures.
At least I was going for my hundred with a bit of style; I wasn’t blocking out, or trying to steal a single. The ball was right up there, so my natural instinct was to smash it. Sure, I was disappointed walking off, but then I thought that’s the way I play: ‘live by the sword, die by the sword’, so the disappointment didn’t really last.
I know what I’ll do next time I’m in that position and feel now that I can maybe go on and finish the season with a bit of a flourish.