Batting hard work pays dividends

For the first time in my career I’ve reached 1,000 first-class runs in a season and I couldn’t be much happier.

I’d like to think the five hundreds and the 1,000-run milestone have been the culmination of all the work I put over the winter, because I now feel that when I do get in I’ll make sure I stay in and make the most of each opportunity as it arises.

I didn’t work on too many technical issues in the close-season nets, but just made sure I had confidence in my technique and that things were right in my mind.

I’m also very much enjoying batting at No 3 because that means that I know where I stand no matter where we are in the game. I’ve always enjoyed going straight from keeping into batting mode and I’m feeling really comfortable with that now I’m at three in the order.

The thing is, as soon as I run off the field after keeping I have to strap on my batting pads straight away so there’s no real opportunity for my brain to switch off.

The hundred in Derby last week was probably the best I’ve felt at the crease all summer, I felt really comfortable in terms of rhythm there, yet the 150 against Surrey the week before that in Canterbury was probably the worst I’d felt batting all season. It seemed a real battle that day, but that’s just how it goes some times.

The great thing is that I set out my stall at the start of the season to score 100s in our first innings, because that’s when they count the most in terms of batting bonus points, so I’m pleased to have achieved that.

A lot has been said and written about cricketers playing five-a-side football before our warm-ups since Joe Denly picked up his knee injury playing soccer at The Oval.

We play football as part of our daily routine at Kent and we all enjoy it. I always start in goal so that I can have a lengthy period of stretching before I play out of goal.

I generally go in defence because I’m dreadful anywhere else and can never score goals, but our style of football seems very different to that played in the England camp.

We have a strict ‘no tackling’ rule, it has to be that way and everyone respects it, but when I went to the first day of the Ashes in Cardiff and watched the England boys play five-a-side I was surprised it was so ‘full on’.

I see no harm in playing football for a fun warm-up, but it has to be non-contact and no tackling. That’s all it needs – a bit more respect for each other – but at least in Joe’s case there appears to have been no lasting damage caused.

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