Rob Key leads Kent into their Friends Life t20 campaign boosted by the signing of former South Africa fast bowler Charl Langeveldt, a first home win of a difficult season against Leicestershire in the County Championship, and what he sees as a coming of age for young all-rounder Matt Coles.
Kent have what on paper is the toughest start to this year’s Twenty20 Cup of any team – games against last season’s finalists, Somerset and Hampshire, who won the title in a thrilling finish against Marcus Trescothick’s side.
But they play them both at Tunbridge Wells, at the end of another successful Cricket Week, and so will have some passionate home support with sell-out crowds of around 4,500 expected at the compact and beautiful Nevill Ground.
Key said: “We have always enjoyed playing Twenty20 cricket and, of course, won the Cup ourselves in 2007. We are looking forward to the competition this year and, after a tough start to the season with lots of injury disruptions, it is good to know that players like Simon Cook, Joe Denly, Robbie Joseph and Matt Coles are now back fit again.
“Finances at the club have eased just enough too for us to be able to bring in Charl Langeveldt as an overseas signing for the Twenty20, and he is a vastly experienced bowler who will give us good options with the new ball and in the death overs.
“Beating Leicestershire in the four-day match at Tunbridge Wells also gives us some momentum and added confidence as a side, and I am looking to Charl to bring extra nous to the team.
“It is a shame that Darren Stevens will almost certainly not be able to bowl during the competition, because of a shoulder problem, but he is still a huge asset as a batsman and we have plenty of bowling options.
“I have been especially impressed with Coles in the past fortnight since he returned from an injury. He was 21 last week and I think he has turned a corner as a bloke and as a cricketer this season. He did well in his debut season last year, with both ball and bat, but he is now become more professional in his whole approach which is very pleasing.”
Coles took 5 for 77 in Leicestershire’s first innings of 251, and then two more second time around, and kept up his pace despite being in the field for two full days as Leicestershire followed on. It was his first five-wicket haul in Championship cricket.
“If you can take five wickets on a flat pitch, as that one was, then you have chances,” added Key. “Matt bowled quite a lot of overs but he is a strong lad and he always ran in and kept up a good pace. He swung the ball consistently too and it was a very good performance. He is learning to put together good spells now, and it is excellent to see.”