Spitfires looking for first victory
Spitfires looking for first victory

Kent Spitfires will hope home advantage will help them to open their Royal London Cup win account over the next 72 hours and stave off the threat of early elimination from this season’s competition.

Last month’s disappointing opening round defeat at home to Hampshire, coupled with Tuesday’s high scoring reverse to Somerset in Taunton, have left Sam Northeast’s side ninth and propping up the south group.

Kent, who reached the quarter finals in 2016, now need an immediate transformation in white-ball form, starting tomorrow (Friday) against Sussex, and then back at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence for Sunday’s visit of Middlesex, if they are to stay in contention.

Kent’s interim assistant coach, Jason Gillespie, said that the Spitfires bowling attack needs to learn quick lessons in order to turn results around.

“A big lesson we can take out of the Somerset game is that we need to adapt quicker to game situations,” said Gillespie. “Our bowlers need to recognise conditions in those first 10 to 15 overs and bowl with less width.

“They [Somerset] scored a lot of runs off the front foot from fuller deliveries and that’s something we can learn from by adjusting our lines and lengths. The lads just need to remind themselves of the good things they’ve done already this season.”

The former Yorkshire coach added: “We’re looking forward to the local derby with Sussex now, I’ve experienced them up north of course, but this will be my first with Kent and I’m hoping it’ll be pretty cool.”

Kent will be without loanee James Harris, who has returned to his parent club Middlesex, and will give a late fitness test to South Africa left-armer Wayne Parnell, who left the field after feeling unwell during the defeat to Somerset. Callum Haggett and Matt Coles are added to a 14-man squad, the latter having missed the West Country trip with a chest infection.

Meanwhile, the county have also confirmed that Allan Donald, the former Warwickshire and South Africa strike bowler, will now take up his role as assistant coach for the start of the 2018 season.

The 50-year-old faced UK visa issues after accepting the post during the close-season and will now need to complete a Level 3 coaching certificate before being granted a work permit.

In the meantime, Donald will complete a short-term coaching role with Sri Lanka for the duration of the Champions Trophy, while Gillespie will continue to act as interim assistant until early June. The club will announce a further locum replacement for Donald in due course.

Head coach, Matt Walker, said: “It’s frustrating that a coach of Allan’s calibre is unable to join us sooner, but thankfully Jason has slotted in superbly as our interim assistant.”

Kent women’s all-rounder Alice Davidson-Richards starred with bat and ball as the county opened their Royal London Women’s One-Day County Championship campaign with a win and a defeat over the Bank Holiday weekend.

Davidson-Richards hit a half-century and bagged four wickets as the county beat Nottinghamshire. The 22-year-old from Tunbridge Wells returned from England women’s pre-season training camp in Abu Dhabi to impress and also skippered Kent to victory in the East Midlands.

With Davidson-Richards’ centrally-contracted colleagues; Tammy Beaumont, Tash Farrant and Laura Marsh unavailable, three teenagers made their Kent debuts as the seven-time county champions began their championship and cup double defence.

Tunbridge Wells bowler Jodie Hobson, Ashford-born batsman Annabelle Richards and bowler Chelsey Rowson from Dartford were the debutants among five Under-17 players who featured in Kent’s side for their opening brace of RLODC matches.

The side narrowly lost at Warwickshire on Sunday before bouncing back to beat Nottinghamshire on bank holiday Monday. Seamer Jenni Jackson scored a career-best, unbeaten 44 in Kent’s total of 200 on Sunday, before taking a career-best of three for 16 with the ball in Monday’s win.