Klaassen happy to show his class
Klaassen happy to show his class

Kent Spitfires bowler Fred Klaassen was delighted to start off the 2021 Vitality T20 Blast with individual and team success as he took 4/32 in the Spitfires’ 38-run win over Hampshire Hawks on Wednesday.

Klaassen, who was returning from international duty with the Netherlands, saw his first over go for 17, but recovered well to claim the wickets of Liam Dawson, James Fuller, Joe Weatherley and Ian Holland, registering career-best T20 figures in the process. 

“The team effort was outstanding,” said Klaassen, speaking after the game. “I think the fielding first of all was remarkable. We got off to a flyer with the bat in the powerplay, carrying on from last year, and posted a good score on that wicket. 

“We started off OK with the ball – my first over went for 17, I was a bit shellshocked to be fair – and then (James) Logan bowled absolutely brilliantly. Then it was the Darren Stevens show of course, which was quite remarkable. 

“It is nice to take a few poles, but that is the game of T20. After the first over it was damage control but it ended up OK and the team win is the most important thing, so happy days.”

Kent set their visitors 177 to win, majorly in thanks to Joe Denly (44) and Daniel Bell-Drummond (42) who got the Spitfires off to a flier in the powerplay. Ollie Robinson anchored the innings from number three with 48 from 36 balls, before Kent restricted Hampshire to 138/9 with the ball.

“We used the conditions very well, taking the pace off the ball,” said Klaassen. “We saw in the first innings that spin was good, and it was holding a little bit. Our spinners bowled well but the seamers took pace off the ball well and were backed up with some good catches in the field as well.”

Left-arm spinner James Logan registered figures of 1/14 from three overs on debut, just hours after he signed for the club. Klaassen was impressed with thew man and is looking forward to seeing more.

“I only met him for the first time on Tuesday!” said Klaassen. “It didn’t look like his first game, he looked like he was a veteran, so if he continues to play like that it is a very good signing. The spinners bowled well.”

There was an eclectic atmosphere throughout at Canterbury and things got louder when 45-year-old fan favourite Darren Stevens, playing his first T20 for Kent since 2017, took the wicket for Australian international D’Arcy Short with his first ball.

“To field during that atmosphere, it was a few notches I would say,” said Klaassen, speaking on the crowd. 

“I suppose in all aspects of the game Darren provides something – batting, bowling, and fielding. It makes it better when the crowd gets behind him like that and gets behind the team – it was an amazing atmosphere.

“When Darren came onto bowl it went up a few notches, and it was brilliant. Under lights, it is always a great atmosphere at Canterbury, even though it was a restricted crowd. Hopefully those numbers will get bigger as the restrictions lessen – a full house screaming Darren’s name would be louder than the Lord’s atmosphere I would say!”

It hasn’t been an easy season for Klaassen personally. He played two first-class matches earlier in the season but took just three wickets at an average of 57.33 before falling out the team.

He did however recently play a pivotal role for the Netherlands in their 2-1 ODI series win against Ireland, taking four wickets at 16.5 with an economy of just 2.36 runs an over.

The ‘Flying Dutchman’ insisted that series helped him prepare for the Blast, and he is hungry for the rest of the tournament.

He said: “We had a good series win over Ireland in Holland and I thought it was quite good preparation for the white ball stuff. I have been trying to get into the red ball side and played a couple of games at the start of the season but for the transition into white ball cricket the Irish series came at a good time.

“I took a lot of confidence from the series. We did well as a team, and I was pretty happy with my performance as an individual as well. 50 over cricket is still very different to T20 and coming over here I was back down to earth with my first over going for 17, but T20 can change so quickly, and it is just about staying and being brave.

“It has been a tough red ball stint so far, but we have started the last two T20 Blast campaigns that I have been a part of well, so let’s hope we can get a couple of wins in a row here and take the momentum with us. It is great to get the first win.”

Kent’s campaign will continue on Friday when they host Middlesex at the Spitfire Ground.

Picture supplied by Kent Cricket.