Rouse hoping to maintain form
Rouse hoping to maintain form

Kent Spitfires’ wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Rouse will hope to extend his white-ball heroics into the Specsavers County Championship this week (Wednesday) when the county entertain Division 2 rivals Warwickshire in a top-of-the-table clash at Tunbridge Wells.

Rouse, who looks set to stand in behind the stumps once again with Sam Billings’ expected retention within England’s ODI party, proved Kent’s unlikely batting star in the Royal London Cup semi-final at New Road – scoring a priceless 70 in 76 minutes that helped salvage a Spitfires’ run chase that was faltering at 31 for three.

Promoted to bat at No 5 in the order, the dependable 25-year-old from Harare, Zimbabwe, joined forces with fourth-wicket partner Heino Kuhn to add 114 in 23 overs and turn the tide in favour of the visitors, who went on to secure their nerve-wracking two-wicket win with two balls to spare.

“When we had them 48 for four in their innings we backed ourselves to win it, but Worcestershire did really well to go on and score 300-odd,” said Rouse.

“We always believed that if we could keep wickets in hand we’d have an opportunity to chase down the runs. It’s why we’ve done so well in the competition, because we back our boys all the way down to the end. Heino and I were happy to sit in during that middle period, take on a bit of the pressure and take us as deep as possible.

“Sadly, neither of us quite saw it through. It would have been nice and well deserved for Heino to get us over the line because he’s been absolutely magnificent in red and white-ball cricket for us. He is a real talent and he fully deserved to win the man-of-the match award for the semi.

“He offers so much for us and not just with the bat. In the field, he throws himself around, hurls the ball in and keeps the boys going. He gives amazing encouragement on the field, which makes my life easier as the keeper, but in the dressing rooms as well. He’s just so relaxed, his character seems to simply absorb the pressure.”

Going into the sixth round of championship games, Kent – who are unbeaten in their last four starts – trail leaders Warwickshire by 24 points, having failed to polish off Gloucestershire’s rearguard action in their latest red-ball encounter at The Brightside Ground.

Decked out with its marquees and bunting for the four-day festival clash, the Royal Spa town’s leafy Nevill Ground will, however, feel like a world away from the boisterous antics that followed Kent’s tense win over Worcestershire on Sunday. But head coach Matt Walker said it is essential that the side re-focus on red-ball cricket – and quickly.

“It’s a brutal schedule but you don’t’ mind that too much when you’re winning games,” said Walker. “The Lord’s final is a fortnight away, we need to put that to the back of our minds for now and focus on two crucial, back-to-back championship matches.

“We need to think hard about what side we need to play, but the good teams, the successful sides, play a lot of cricket and don’t get too much rest. We have a few little niggles, but we must get our heads right quickly, that’s essential because we’re in the hunt to win the championship too.”

Kent have fitness and form quandaries to consider before selecting their latest starting XI. Mitch Claydon (groin), Grant Stewart (hamstring) and James Tredwell (shoulder) have all been on the treatment table of late, while Imran Qayyum could push Adam Riley for the spinner’s berth after Riley went wicketless over the four days in Bristol. If Billings remains on England duty, vice-captain Joe Denly will again captain the side.


 
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