Kent looking for first One Day win
Kent looking for first One Day win

Kent will have four precious practice days this week to brush up on their white-ball skills before aiming to kick-start their Royal London One-Day Cup campaign for 2018 at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence on Friday.

Having collected only one win from their eight 50-over starts last summer, Spitfires opened this season’s competition with last Thursday’s seven-wicket defeat to Sussex in Hove and followed up with a 70-run reverse against Middlesex at Radlett on Sunday.

Those back-to-back defeats on the road have left Joe Denly’s side equal bottom of the South Group going into Friday’s first home match in the tournament against Glamorgan (11am start) – but they still have time to climb the table, with the top three from each group qualifying for the play-offs.

Although there have been glimpses of limited overs form within the squad, the starting XI has, according to all-rounder Calum Haggett, been found wanting in terms of consistency.

“We’re a bit down,” said Haggett after the defeat to Middlesex. “We restricted them to 313 which we felt was about par for the ground. They got off to a decent start and at one point we feared that Paul Stirling might go on for a double hundred.

“On the batting front, we needed a few more guys to hang around and support Heino [Kuhn], then we’d have been in with a better shout.

“When I was out there with Heino we were looking to get to 220 after 40 overs. We managed that target and were looking to go from there but unfortunately, I got run out. It was always going to be tough for someone new coming in at that point.

“Last year I felt I went fairly well in the T20s bowling at the death and got a bit of confidence from that. We’ve also got Mitch [Claydon] and Matt [Henry], who are great at the death, but we’ve got to go better at the start of games and put some real pressure on teams at the stage of the match.”

Batting wise, Spitfires have posted 90s through Kuhn and Daniel Bell-Drummond in their opening games but have yet to score a century. Acting skipper Denly has suffered a brace of ducks, while Darren Stevens has returned from his groin niggle to score only five in his first two innings.

Kiwi paceman Matt Henry – who leads the national first-class bowling averages with 37 wickets – is still leading the Spitfires’ attack with aplomb, but overall, support has proved patchy. It hasn’t helped Kent’s cause that Grant Stewart’s promising start to the season has been blighted by a hamstring strain. The Aussie-born all-rounder had the injury scanned last week and has since returned to training – but he seems unlikely to be risked for a potential competition debut on Friday.

“Thankfully, we have a bit of free time this week to go back and train quite hard and put a few things right,” added Haggett. “I don’t think there’s that much wrong, it’s just about being more clinical in our training and all that we do in practice.

“Hopefully, that work can put us in a position to get some much-needed victories. We can compete with the side that we’ve got, we just need to look at ourselves and tweak a few things. I know I’ll be trying to do that and I know the other lads will too.

“The next game is so, so important for us because we just need to get a win. Through hard practice and doing the right things, I’m sure we can manage it.”