Walker hoping for Spitfires run
Walker hoping for Spitfires run

Tough selection decisions and a brace of nervy have been the order of the week as Kent maintained their hopes of reaching the knock-out stages of this season’s NatWest T20 Blast by taking three points out of the four on offer.

Spitfires followed Sunday’s dramatic, rain affected tie with Sussex in Hove by securing a seven-wicket win over Somerset on Thursday in another south group game to be hit by the weather.

The victory, Kent’s third in seven starts, lifted Sam Northeast’s side to fifth in the table and with a game in hand on Middlesex and Somerset – the sides immediately above them in the south group.

In welcoming a reversal in his side’s T20 fortunes, Kent’s head coach Matt Walker said: “The win against Somerset with nine balls to spare looks comfortable enough on paper, although chasing down 181 was never likely to be after that heavy shower.

“Overall, I thought we showed a lot of courage and skill with the bat, but less so with our bowling and fielding. I had a good feeling about Sam [Northeast], he’s worked really hard on his game, and against Somerset he was back to his very best with some good clean hitting in what was a fine, unbeaten 50. He was in control and dominated with good intent as soon as he went out to bat.”

Walker added: “The win will give us a lot of confidence going forward and we hope to take that momentum in Sunday’s game with Glamorgan [Canterbury, 3pm start]. T20 is all about momentum, getting into a rhythm of winning, but the south group is such a tight division that games can be won or lost in the space of 10 balls.”

On the south coast on Sunday Kent were indebted to a record fourth-wicket century stand between Sam Billings and Jimmy Neesham for their part in a 20-over total of 176 for four.

Showers left Sussex needing a revised figure of 88 from eight overs which condensed to eight off their final over bowled Spitfires’ death specialist by Mitch Claydon.

With two required off the final delivery, Chris Nash drove to long-on and set off for two only to see Laurie Evans run out at the non-striker’s end by Alex Blakes’ direct hit from the deep.

Kent spin bowler James Tredwell, although overlooked for selection in the tied game, said: “It was literally honours even. We came off from batting thinking we’d done alright in scoring 170-odd, and Sam [Billings 64] and Jimmy [Neesham 51*] played superbly together, but when it becomes a shortened eight-over chase you have to think the batting side are always going to be favourites.

“If we’d have played a full game then we’d have certainly fancied our chances of winning, but in eight overs you do pretty well to defend whatever the Duckworth/Lewis sets really.

“We could have done couple of things better in the field I suppose but Mitch Claydon was on the money in the final over and ‘Blakeys’ last ball run out was good enough to get us a point.”

In explaining Tredwell’s omission from the side in favour of left-arm spinner Imran Qayyum, Walker added: “When you have good players in your squad fighting for one position then you’re going to have to make tough calls somewhere down the line.

“What is pleasing is that we now have young players coming through and pushing their case, and then doing well in a tense atmosphere. It’s exciting to have a left-arm spinner in the side who appears to be growing in confidence with every game.

“Imran wasn’t at his best against Somerset, but he’ll learn from that and will come back with that knowledge in the bank. Of course, it’s a big call and a big statement to leave James Tredwell out of the side – he’s an experienced international cricketer – but life moves on and teams do change.

“We might not always get the selection calls right but I try and make the decision in my own mind as to who will be the best spinner for any particular match and I think Imran has done pretty well for the last three games.”

Walker also confirmed that Kiwi fast bowler Adam Milne suffered a recurrence of a thigh injury after bowling only two overs in the win against Somerset. The 25-year-old looks set for another stint on the sidelines.

Kent v Glamorgan match facts

Glamorgan have won their last two games against the Spitfires after they went winless in the previous five (T1 L4).

Kent Spitfires have won each of their previous two games against Glamorgan in Canterbury despite losing the toss on both occasions.

Kent Spitfires have beaten Glamorgan both times they’ve faced on a Sunday in the past; by a margin of six wickets in 2010 and then by five wickets in 2011.

David Lloyd (Glamorgan) registered his highest ever T20 score when these sides last met (97* in June 2016).