Kent get back to red ball action
Kent get back to red ball action

Kent’s players will be looking forward to a reversal in recent fortunes on their return to home soil on Monday when they do battle with Specsavers County Championship rivals Northamptonshire in Beckenham.

Sam Northeast’s side were seriously outgunned during their back-to-back matches on the road at New Road and Trent Bridge over the past fortnight and have dropped to third in the Division 2 table following their sole defeat of the campaign to Worcestershire.

Only rain on the fourth day at Trent Bridge prevented the hosts from inflicting a second straight reverse upon Kent, ensuring that this week’s encounter at Worsley Bridge Road must represent a turnaround in form if Kent are to reclaim one of the two automatic promotion spots.

The Kent side will also be looking forward to a return to 11am starts and playing with a red ball once again after their poor showing during the pink-ball floodlight game in the East Midlands.

In giving his view on the ECB’s experimental round of pink-ball day/night championship cricket, Kent’s head coach Matthew Walker said: “I think there has been a fairly mixed reaction. Individually, everyone has had their own little battles with it. I think it’s just different, that’s the biggest issue.

“It’s not done excessive amounts in the air but it is just a slightly different feel in the hands for the bowlers and sometimes it reacted differently off the surface for the bowlers. Stevo (Darren Stevens), for example, wasn’t quite getting that zip off the wicket that he would do with a red ball.

“In terms of the batting, the biggest issue for the lads is that they weren’t able to pick up the seam on the ball and weren’t quite seeing the shape of the delivery so they were just seeing a pink blur coming down and, when you’re facing the likes of Pattinson and Ball at good pace, that can be a bit of a challenge.”

Walker added: “I think it is fine to try something, it’s all a little bit like the first year of T20 when no-one really knew what was going on but look how that’s turned out.

“If they are going to stick with it then I hope they have more than one game a year so people can get used to it rather than playing just a token one-off match.”

Kent pace bowler Matt Coles was not a fan of the pink ball either, saying: “I’m not too keen on it to be honest. Personally, I think you can see a bit of a tail or something to it and you can’t really pick it up in the field in certain positions to certain shots. I found it to be pretty tough throughout.”

Kent’s popular all-rounder Stevens also found sighting the pink ball tricky and, after being hit by a Harry Gurney bouncer at Trent Bridge, played no further part in the game. He will also be a doubt for Monday’s clash in Beckenham.

Walker added: “The early assessment on Darren suggest a concussion. He’s struggling with a bit of vision in his left eye and came off with a raging headache, so we’ll get him checked out because he’s not 100 per cent at all.”

Kent again look set to consider both their overseas options in Yasir Shah, the Pakistan wrist spinner, and Kiwi pace bowler, Adam Milne, at Beckenham and will decide which of them will play once assessing the pitch. Northeast’s selection opportunities will also receive a further boost with the return of Sam Billings from England Lions duty.

In the corresponding game at Worsley Bridge Road last season, Kent were blown away by Ben Duckett’s double century in a defeat to Northamptonshire that effectively put paid to their 2016 promotion hopes.