A Winter’s Tale maybe one of Shakespeare’s most famous romantic comedies but, thus far at least, this close-season has proved far from a bundle of laughs for Kent all-rounder Darren Stevens.
Selected by the ECB for England’s side at the Hong Kong sixes, Stevens enjoyed some decent personal performances in the qualifying rounds, only for England to suffer a humiliating defeat in the final against a powerful Pakistan side.
Stevens’ plans to play Twenty20 cricket in Zimbabwe and New Zealand then fell through at the eleventh hour, while continued circulation problems in his right hand – the legacy of a bowling injury at the start of the 2011 campaign – will require further exploratory scans and possibly treatment in late December.
“It’s been a testing winter so far, but I’m never down too long,” said Stevens, after a net session in Canterbury this week.
“The people in Zimbabwe messed me around a little. I’d told them I was happy to go, and that was back in November, but they stalled over things so I went on holiday to Egypt with my partner and some friends instead.
“It was just some downtime, playing golf and diving, but while we were away I had an e-mail from Canterbury District in New Zealand making me an offer.
“I spoke to Bob Carter, their coach, and a few of their players, and agreed terms for their Twenty20 competition. Then, a couple of weeks later, my agent Neil Fairbrother got a phone call to say they’d given the job to Yasir Arafat instead!
“That was really disappointing, because I’d built my hopes up about going back out there. I really enjoyed it at Otago last year and was looking forward to another stint, but sadly they pulled the pin on that.”
Having proved his value to Kent on numerous occasions Stevens is determined to play on some new stages, however, and now has irons in the fire to play in Bangladesh, South Africa and possibly the IPL this winter.
“There’s still half a chance of playing in Bangladesh for a fortnight in January, and I had a call last week from Port Elizabeth about going out to play t20 for The Warriors.
“I got a text from Wayne Parnell (a former Kent team-mate) and he’s keeping his fingers crossed for me. That starts in February and finishes late March, so if that comes off it would be great exposure.
“I’m also back in the IPL auction for the New Year. That’s a bit of a lottery, but I’d love to be involved. I tell myself I just need to find a door in, but at the minute I just can’t find the right door.
“It’s all a bit of a waiting game and if something comes of it, then great, but in many ways – and considering what my body’s been through in the last few years – then a winter off wouldn’t be a disaster either.”