Crawley hoping for two wins
Crawley hoping for two wins

Kent opening batsman Zak Crawley believes his side may have to win both their remaining Vitality Blast matches to be sure of reaching the knockout stages of this year’s short-form event.

Crawley, who hit his maiden T20 half-century from 30 balls in last Friday’s shock home defeat at the hands of Surrey, says that the Spitfires can afford no further slip ups if they are to qualify for the quarter-finals.

The county have bolstered their chances of qualification with the signing of South Africa captain Faf du Plessis, who will play for the remainder of the competition once clearance from the board of Cricket South Africa is rubber-stamped.

Du Plessis will be aiming to line up in the Spitfires’ side who welcome Gloucestershire, their so-called T20 bogey side, for their final home South Group qualifier tomorrow (Thursday, 7pm) and complete their schedule with a trip to take on Essex Eagles in Chelmsford on Friday (6.30pm) – with Crawley demanding no more slip-ups.

“In the past we’ve dominated these group stages and I’m hopeful that’s still what we’re going to do,” said the Tonbridge School prodigy.

“I believe we’re going to have to win both matches. I reckon that we might squeeze through if we win one, but we can’t afford to be relying on net run rate and things like that so, in my head at least, we’ll be going out to win both.”

Crawley added: “I’m a big believer that it doesn’t really matter whether you’re at home or away in the quarter-finals. In T20 anyone can beat anyone else at any venue, so all that counts is getting into that top four. I’m not worried whether we’ll be at home or away.”

As for taking on Gloucestershire – who Kent have not beaten in this format since July 2016 – and then Essex, Crawley said: “I don’t believe in all that. We were meant to be Somerset’s bogey team, but they turned us over this season. So, no more talk about bogey teams, let’s just go out and do a good job against them.

“As for Chelmsford, you always get a bit of stick from their crowd on a Friday night and they’re not a bad side when they all hit their straps, so we’ll have to play well. If we play anywhere near our best then I feel we’ve got the talent to beat both.”

Crawley added: “We missed out on going top of the South Group with that defeat to Surrey but, to be fair, we were without Adam Milne and Mohammad Nabi and had quite a young side out.

“Marcus O’Riordan made his club debut and Matt Milnes played his first ever T20 and yet we still dominated most of the game against a Surrey side fielding a lot of international players.

“Apart from our two (Nabi and Milne) Surrey have the two best overseas players in the competition in Aaron Finch and Imran Tahir yet we pushed them all the way only to lose it in a tight last over.

“We’re clearly a good side, and we mustn’t forget that, we just weren’t able to get over the win line at the death. Hopefully we’re saving our best for the back end, which is where it counts.”

Du Plessis, 35, a proven match-winner with the bat and a handy leg-spinner, will be added to the same 13 on duty against Surrey last week.