Stevens – Catches win matches
Stevens – Catches win matches

Darren Stevens claims Kent will need to brush up on their slip fielding skills during the close season if they are to successfully pursue the county’s No 1 ambition of sealing championship promotion next season.

The veteran all-rounder says too many chances have gone to ground in the cordon this summer and that missed opportunities have cost the county dearly in recent match situations at Chester-le-Street and Bristol.

“We had got into a great position against Gloucestershire when a catch went down, which was very costly,” said Stevens.

“The Gloucestershire lads then batted well on a docile pitch. But it was disappointing for us, having fought back so well from their brilliant start with that big opening stand.

“Then, last week, we also had Durham in trouble and dropped a catch. If we don’t go up this year it is something we will be looking at during the winter and trying to get better at.”

Whilst disappointed at missing out in a place in the top flight, Kent’s head coach Matt Walker still praised his side’s efforts. He said: “I think the most overwhelming feeling is that our season is over. We are not going to get promoted and that was what we set out to achieve at the start of the season.

“I cannot fault our effort here [in Bristol]. I thought we were outstanding and we kept going, all day. But that is probably the story of our season – it was never quite enough.

“To win a division or win promotion you have to be good from start to finish and we have probably just fallen short on too many occasions.”

Meanwhile, pace bowler James Harris has thanked Kent for his time at the club this summer and a loan stint that proved to be the springboard for a return to the Middlesex side.

The popular 27-year-old Welshman took 19 wickets at 21 apiece during his four championship appearances and also averaged 36.5 with the bat before his recall to Middlesex.

“It was great, I really enjoyed my loan at Kent,” said Harris this week. “They’re a great bunch of people at Kent, the office staff, the coaches and the players, all good folks, and I’m very grateful to them all for my time there.

“At the start of the season it looked very likely that I wouldn’t be playing for Middlesex very much, so the move to Kent was exactly what I needed, especially as I knew Jason Gillespie well from our time together at Glamorgan. The fact that ‘Dizzy’ would be there at Kent as bowling coach made it a real no-brainer for me.

“I’d like to think I put in some decent performances during my time at Canterbury and helped the club to win a few games, so all-in-all, it worked out well for both sides.”

Harris added: “I know Kent wanted me back for the second part of the season, but circumstances changed at Middlesex with Toby Roland-Jones getting an England call up. I’m a Middlesex player and I’m contracted to them for 2018, so playing cricket for Middlesex has to be my priority from here on.

“I just think it’s a great shame Kent haven’t been able to keep the pressure up and push for promotion from Division 2, which I know is desperately what all the guys wanted to achieve this season. But I’ll continue to watch for their results and wish the lads all the best.”

Kent start their penultimate championship match of the campaign and their final away match on Tuesday when they take on Derbyshire in Chesterfield.