Kent have been hit by a triple whammy of end-of-season departures following the news that director of cricket Paul Farbrace and senior batsmen, Joe Denly and Martin van Jaarsveld, are leaving the county.
Farbrace, who leaves the club he served as a wicketkeeper-batsman from 1987 to 1989 before joining Middlesex, was forced to cull his playing staff last winter and cannot have been happy to lose two more of his most senior players.
The former Kent Academy director, who had a hand in bringing Denly through the Kent Academy system, said: “It has been a privilege to be director of cricket and I have enjoyed working with the group of players and wish them well. I am now looking forward to the future and I will always have good memories of my time at Kent.”
As for Denly, the only Kent batsman to reach 1,000 first-class runs in 2011, he turned down a contract extension at the end of 2010 and is now heading to Lord’s to play under his old Kent team-mate Neil Dexter for Middlesex.
“A large part of me is very sad to be leaving Kent,” said Denly, the first Canterbury-born player to be capped by the county.
“As a local lad who’s come through the system I expected to play my whole career here. This is an important stage of my career, however, and I’m really excited about the move to Middlesex, who are a club on the up as shown by their recent promotion to Division One of the Championship.”
Denly, who played 79 first-class games for Kent, scoring 4,658 runs at a modest average of 35.02, added: “I’m committed to becoming the best player I can possibly be and firmly believe that the environment at Middlesex will help me achieve this.
“I’d like to thank everyone at Kent, particularly my captain Rob Key, for the support I’ve received over the past eight years.”
Denly is joined out of the St Lawrence exit door by South African-born, but England qualified, run-machine van Jaarsveld, who joined Kent in 2005 after his debut Championship season with Northamptonshire the previous summer.
Apart from taking 189 catches in his 110 first-class appearances, van Jaarsveld plundered over 8,000 runs at an average of 46.67. He scored 1,000 runs every year apart from 2011 and also chipped in with 5,000 runs in limited-overs cricket.
In announcing his move to Leicestershire on a two-year deal with a one-year option, the 37-year-old said: “I would like to thank everyone at Kent for the opportunity I have been given.”
Having made no secret of his contempt for the Tiflex ball or his dislike of the St Lawrence pitches in recent seasons, van Jaarsveld added: “I have poured everything I have had into trying to score runs and win games for the county, but now it is time for a new challenge which I hope will reignite my passion for the game and allow me to recapture my best form.”
Though Sam Northeast has signed a one-year contract extension, the double departure leaves Kent’s top-order dangerously threadbare and, with a reduced budget likely for 2012, problems aplenty will face the man they appoint as coach for next term.