Northeast hoping for Kent wins
Northeast hoping for Kent wins

Kent’s rain ruined stalemate against the Specsavers County Championship’s basement side Leicestershire this week has undoubtedly dented the promotion hopes of Sam Northeast’s side.

After a poor start Kent showed tremendous spirit to fight their way back into the game courtesy of career-best bowling figures of 8-75 by Darren Stevens. Then, after rain washed out the entirety at day three, Kent mounted a spirited attempt to skittle the visitors cheaply and force a positive result, until afternoon showers returned to scupper their hopes with Leicestershire six wickets down.

The inclement weather meant Kent had to settle for a fifth draw in 10, Division 2 starts which stretches a win-less championship run that now extends back to May 29 with their 147-run victory over Sussex in Tunbridge Wells.

With only four matches remaining, the next three of which are on the road, Northeast realises there can be no more wriggle-room when it comes to poor performances.

“It was evenly poised after two days of cricket against Leicestershire so to miss Wednesday through rain was disappointing,” said the Kent skipper. “We got ourselves into a good place to win the game and the weather came down again, but that happens in cricket.

“There were times in this match when we played good cricket and others when we didn’t so, looking forward to Durham we will have to improve in certain areas.”

Kent start the first of three successive away games in Chester-le-Street on Tuesday and follow that with trips to play Gloucestershire in Bristol and Derbyshire in Chesterfield. They return to Canterbury for their final game of the campaign against Glamorgan starting on September 25.

“We try to go and win every game possible and these are four games where we feel we have a good chance of winning,” said the Kent skipper.

“Every time we’ve played Durham in recent times it has always been a tough game and they’re on a bit of a roll at the moment. We haven’t played up there for a long time so we’ll have to see what sort of pitch we get up there. But they’re a good side and it won’t be easy for sure.”

Northeast added: “The teams around us have to play each other as well and who knows there may be some tricky or surprise results. There are no easy games in this division but if we can get back to our early season form that would be ideal.”

Meanwhile, Kent have strengthened their bowling options by signing popular all-rounder Grant Stewart on his first professional contract.

The 23-year-old Australian, who is a team-mate back home with Kent stalwart Mitch Claydon, has impressed in the Kent 2nd XI this summer as joint top wicket-taker across all formats with 29 scalps. He has also hit a maiden unbeaten 50 for the county second string, but will not play as an overseas player for the first XI as he holds an EU passport, courtesy of his Italian mother.

Stewart has also starred in the Shepherd Neame Kent Premier League for Sandwich Town in recent months, taking 30 wickets – including a best of six for 48 – while improving his all-rounder status with a hundred and seven half-centuries.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time at Kent and I’m delighted to get the opportunity to work with the first-team squad and coaches,” said Stewart. “Becoming a full-time professional means I can dedicate more time to developing my game and I hope I can contribute to some success for the club.”