The Kentish gloom surrounding the triple departures of director of cricket Paul Farbrace and senior batsmen Joe Denly and Martin van Jaarsveld has been partially lifted by more positive news surrounding the county’s players of the future.
Though those three departing Kent stalwarts will be nigh on impossible to replace, the Canterbury-based club have at least invested in youth and bolstered their squad with five teenage signings.
Spinner Adam Riley and wicketkeeper batsman Chris Piesley, both 19, have agreed terms to extend their contracts, while Fabian Cowdrey, the 18-year-old grandson of the late Colin Cowdrey, is taken on to the staff for the first time.
A Tonbridge School prodigy and Kent Academy graduate, Cowdrey had been linked with a move to Surrey, but has signed on the dotted line to play for the same county as his father Chris, uncle Graham and, of course, his grandfather.
Fellow Kent Academy graduate Ivan Thomas, a 19-year-old right-arm seam bowler from Blackheath, also joins the Kent squad, as does Benedict Kemp, 18, Kent’s Academy Scholar award-winner for 2011. Another right-arm seam bowler, Kemp has represented Kent Second XI in all formats of the game.
Expressing his delight that all five have committed their immediate future to Kent, the county’s high performance director Simon Willis said: “It has been very pleasing to see Academy products Ivan Thomas, Benedict Kemp and Fabian Cowdrey performing well in the seconds this summer and be in a position to reward them for their efforts with contracts for the 2012. I look forward to seeing their continued development as they become exposed to the professional environment.”
There was mixed news for two Kent all-rounders, however. While Matt Coles celebrated his inclusion in the ECB’s Potential England Performance Programme – which guarantees winter training in Sri Lanka, South Africa and Loughborough – his one-time Second XI team-mate, James Goodman, announced his decision to pursue a career outside the game.
The county have still to announce their full retained list or news on the futures of Azhar Mahmood, Simon Cook and Robbie Joseph, who are all out of contract.
Finally, Kent have put pen to paper on a new four-year extension of their contract with UK-based kit suppliers, Samurai International, which will now run until 2016.