Kent are putting on a united brave face as they attempt to come to terms with an early season injury crisis that has hit their depleted side.
Budget restraints have already restricted the county to a squad of 20 players, half a dozen of which are still in full-time education at college or school. Now, barely three weeks into the season, three of the remaining players are sidelined through injury.
All-rounder Matt Coles is on the comeback trail from a lower hamstring strain to his right thigh but has been joined on the treatment table this week by Joe Denly and Robbie Joseph.
Denly fractured his right thumb fielding the final ball of the opening day in Kent’s LV= County Championship clash with Gloucestershire.
“The ball caught me flush on the end of the thumb and the X-rays show a split right down the end of the bone,” said Denly. “I tried batting with it, but the shock through the handle was bad and in the end I felt like I was trying to bat with one hand.
“It might have been worse and a least it’s not a spiral fracture, so with luck I should be back within a fortnight or so.”
Denly’s absence will also necessitate a change to Kent’s batting order. Sam Northeast seems likely to move from No3 to open, while Geraint Jones will revert to No3, a berth he filled successfully by topping 1,000 runs for the season when Kent were last in Division Two in 2009.
Young all-rounder Alex Blake seems the most likely candidate to make up the starting 11 for Sunday’s Clydesdale Bank 40 opener with Worcestershire at Canterbury.
As for the injury-plagued Joseph, his latest problem lies in his left quad muscle. With regular treatment, however, the fast bowler could just be fit in time for Kent’s next Championship fixture, against Northamptonshire starting on May 4.
It is, however, another blow to the 29-year-old Antigua born paceman’s self-confidence. Since making his first-class debut in 2000, Joseph has made only 49 first-class appearances for the county due to patchy form or one ailment or another.