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Spitfires playing for pride
Spitfires playing for pride

Kent make the short trip along the M2 to take on Surrey today knowing that they have little more than local pride to play for in this season’s Royal London One-Day Cup qualification campaign.

Spitfires came unstuck during a stuttering run-chase in Bristol on Wednesday afternoon resulting in a shock 11-run reverse to Gloucestershire and a fourth defeat in five starts.

With three games of the 50-over campaign remaining, last season’s quarter finalists now lie bottom of the South Group with no hope of reaching this year’s knock-out stages.

Speaking after his side’s forth defeat in five starts, Kent’ head coach Matt Walker said: “I hope the players are as puzzled as I am about how we didn’t win this match [v Gloucestershire]. They need to look at themselves and take responsibility for their own games because there are clearly areas we need to improve on.

“They are a great bunch and we are not the sort to tear strips off them in the dressing room when things are not quite going to plan. We haven’t got it right in this competition and I would like to think a few players will be taking a long hard look at themselves in the mirror.

“We pride ourselves on being a very good chasing team, but we are far from that right now. If we think we are good enough to just turn up and chase down 275 without making the big moments count we are in for a shock – and that’s what happened.

“It has been a really disappointing campaign for us with the same mistakes being made. Now we need to show a bit of pride in our final games before ensuring we are a lot better when the T20 competition comes around.”

Echoing Walker’s sentiments, Sam Northeast the Kent captain said: “Getting into the top three was always going to be tough, but the reality is we haven’t played our best cricket in this competition, and we know that for sure.

“Sometimes, when you put up scores of 350 or 330 you think that should be enough to win, but we haven’t generally been at our best with the ball. There has been some good cricket played by Kent, without us ever really putting out our best with both bat and ball in the same game.”

In slight mitigation, Kent’s end to the 50-over campaign has been hampered by the loss of their new-ball bowling pairing of Wayne Parnell and Mitch Claydon. Parnell has returned to South Africa after the end of his short spell as overseas professional, while Claydon has flown to Australia this week following a sudden family bereavement.

Northeast added: “Wayne is a big miss for us now that he’s returned home and we’ll hope to get another overseas at some stage soon. We’re talking to a few people but, in the meantime, there will be a good opportunity for someone playing well in the 2nds to come in and show what they can do.”

In a change to the 2016 playing regulations, only the top three finishers in the North and South Groups will qualify for this season’s RLODC knock-out stages, as opposed to four previously.

There is also a new play-off structure. Rather than straight quarter and semi-finals, the two group winners will go straight to a home semi-final, to be played on June 16/17, while the second-placed team in the North will welcome the third-placed southern side, and vice-versa, in play-off games scheduled for Tuesday, June 13.

MATCH STATS

Kent have won five and tied one of their last seven games against Surrey, including a narrow one-wicket win when these teams last met.

Surrey have won eight of their last 10 games played at The Kia Oval.

Five of the last six matches involving Surrey have been won by the chasing side.

Jade Dernbach (Surrey) has taken his 10 wickets at an average of just 10.7 this season; the best rate of any bowler to record 5+ dismissals.


 
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