Robbie Joseph, one of the most frustrating of modern cricketers, is leaving Kent after eight largely unfulfilling seasons. The fast bowler has played in only 49 first-class games for Kent since 2004, in a career plagued by various injuries.
Joseph, who will be 29 in January, was born and bred in Antigua but came to England in 1997 to study at Sutton Valence School, near Maidstone, on a scholarship partly-funded by Kent.
He made his first-class debut in 2000, aged 18 and still at school, when he was selected for a First-Class Counties XI against the touring New Zealanders. Having played Second XI cricket for Kent since 1999, while becoming England-qualified, he made his senior county debut in 2004 and played seven first-class games in all that summer.
Sadly, it was a total of matches that he was destined to top only twice in the subsequent seven seasons – in 2006, when he featured in nine first-class fixtures and in 2008, by far his most successful year, when he managed 15 games and took 55 first-class wickets at 26.05.
His 2008 form, indeed, won him a place in the England Performance squad and he was also selected to play for the England Lions in New Zealand in that winter of 2008-09.
Further injury problems, however, led to him making only four first-class appearances for Kent in 2009 and then just two in 2010. In 2005 he had also played just two first-class games, and in 2007 a mere three. Last summer, despite taking 20 wickets at 27.60 in seven County Championship games – remarkably, his third highest season’s wicket-tally – Joseph bowled highly erratically and looked a shadow of the bowler who, three years earlier, had looked capable of senior international recognition.
In all, and including two appearances for the Leeward Islands in 2008-09, Joseph has played in just 52 first-class games in eight years (and 53 in total, including his 2000 debut match) for an aggregate of 150 wickets at 32.06 runs apiece. Since 2004, too, he has only appeared in 33 List A one-day games and nine domestic Twenty20 matches.
Kent’s patience, then, has finally run out and the county is left to reflect on the staggeringly poor return they have made on their long-term investment in a cricketer whose clear talent has rarely been matched by consistent achievement.
Graham Johnson, the Kent chairman of cricket, said: “We would like to thank Robbie for his efforts for the county over the years and wish him well for the future.”
Joseph himself said: “I have greatly enjoyed my time at Kent and am now looking forward to a new challenge elsewhere. I feel I still have a great deal to achieve in the game and am looking forward to making that happen.”