Kent’s former England wicketkeeper Geraint Jones is delighted by the club’s close-season acquisitions and believes the new-look side have a real chance of being a competitive force in the LV= County Championship second division.
Jones, who warmed up for the season by representing his native Papua New Guinea in last month’s World Cup Twenty20 qualifiers in Dubai, says the new faces have helped bring a breath of fresh air to the St Lawrence dressing room.
The 35-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman said: “The last few years at Kent have been a struggle, so it has been really fantastic that the club has been able to bring in some fresh and experienced players for this season.
“It now feels like we have a proper squad, as opposed to feeling a little short in vital areas as we have been for the past two or three seasons. We’ve recruited really well on a budget and, with Jimmy Adams coming in to stamp his authority onto the squad, it makes for really exciting times and the group seems to be in a really great place.
“At last we’ve got some good competition for places again. I remember when I first joined Kent I was scoring hundreds in the 2nd XI and still not getting opportunities to play for the first team. It looks like we’re returning to that sort of environment again. That’s good, that’s how a professional set-up should work because it means everyone has to keep working to improve and to keep their standards up.”
Speaking ahead of Kent’s opening round game against relegated Yorkshire at Headingley, Jones added: “Batting-wise, Ben Harmison scored some big runs in Antigua and then against Glamorgan pre-season, Brendan Nash has soon showed his class, and Michael Powell, who I’ve known since we played club cricket together for Abergavenny, is a breath of fresh air.
“Our batting, for this division, now looks seriously strong to start the season. We have Rob Key, Scott Newman, Sam Northeast and Ben (Harmison) vying for the top three slots, ‘Nashy’ at No 4, Michael (Powell), Darren Stevens and myself.
“Added to which, we have James Tredwell and Azhar Mahmood to add to the mix when they both get back to England. That looks a pretty useful unit to me. Also, we’ve brought in some great experience bowling-wise with the arrival of Mark Davies and Charlie Shreck.”