Kent presidency “perfect Christmas present” for Denness

Kilts and sporrans may yet be the dress code at Canterbury Cricket Week next August following Kent’s decision to invite former England captain Mike Denness to be the club’s president for 2012.

The Lanarkshire-born batsman, nicknamed ‘Haggis’ throughout the early part of playing career, will succeed his former team-mate and lodger, John Shepherd, in the county’s figurehead role once the scheduled handover takes place during the club’s annual meeting next spring.

Denness, who made 333 first-class appearances for Kent in his 15 seasons with the club, said: “It was a wonderful surprise and the best possible Christmas present.

“Shep and I go back a long way, but he knocked the wind out of my sails the other week when he rang up to say ‘you’re No 1 on my list to replace me, would you be interested?’ I was delighted. For the news to come from Shep made it that little bit more special because I’ve known him since he first came over here in the late 1960s with Keith Boyce.

“He had to qualify that first season, so could only play 2nd XI and club cricket for St Lawrence and Highland Court. I well recall Kent had difficulty finding him digs.

“Before his arrival, Les Ames approached me and told me about the problem and, because I was recently married and had a three-bedroom house up in St Stephen’s, I offered to put him up and I’m glad to say he came. Some 18 months later, and with another little Denness on the way, we needed the room and John finally moved out!”

Denness, now 71 and having recently recovered from pneumonia and kidney surgery, says the Kent presidency will serve as a very welcome distraction for him and his wife, Doreen.

“I’m already looking forward to the handover at the AGM and watching some cricket in the sunshine next summer,” added Denness, who won 28 Test caps for England, 19 of them as skipper.

“This isn’t the sort of honour you think ever might come your way and, when Shep rang, I was actually wondering why the hell he might be calling! I soon found out of course.

“It’s a great honour and a privilege and the first thing I need to do is take a good look at the fixture list and see what matches I can get to. I am still a pitch liaison officer for the ECB, but some of that work may have to give next summer because my availability will have to favour the presidency and getting to some Kent away games with Doreen.

“I’m not too sure as yet how I will make my mark on the position as John and his wife Sue have done so wonderfully well this year. Maybe those attending lunch in the president’s marquee next summer might be required to wear kilts. We shall have to see!”

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