Northamptonshire v Kent preview
Northamptonshire v Kent preview

Kent will get their 2021 season underway on Thursday when they travel to Northamptonshire in the newly-structured County Championship.

The new format will see six teams in three groups play each other home and away in a bid to qualify for Division One – two teams from each group will be placed in each division based on where they finish in their group.

A further four games will be played by each team, though teams will not face the other team moved to their division from their original group. Instead, the original points scored against that team will be carried over. 

This will take place in all three divisions, and the team that finishes first in Division One will be crowned County Champions. They will then face the team that finishes second in Division One in the Bob Willis Trophy final.

Kent have been ‘seeded’ into group three, where they will face Glamorgan, Sussex, Northamptonshire, Lancashire and Yorkshire.

Kent have named a 13-man strong squad for the game: Daniel Bell-Drummond (C), Jordan Cox, Zak Crawley, Miguel Cummins, Joe Denly, Fred Klaassen, Jack Leaning, Matt Milnes, Marcus O’Riordan, Harry Podmore, Ollie Robinson, Darren Stevens, Grant Stewart.

Newly appointed vice-captain Daniel Bell-Drummond will lead the side in the absence of Sam Billings, who is with Delhi Capitals in the Indian Premier League, whilst England test regular Zak Crawley is available for selection before the national team’s summer gets underway in June.

West Indian fast bowler Miguel Cummins could make his debut for the club after joining as an overseas player for the first eight Championship games. Batsman Heino Kuhn, however, misses out with a minor calf injury.

Kent last faced Northamptonshire in the Championship back in 2018, where they won by 102 runs thanks to Joe Denly’s second innings 81 and overseas star Matt Henry’s match figures of 11/114.

Northants themselves will be hungry for success in this year’s competition. They won promotion from Division Two in 2019, but didn’t get to compete in Division One due to the Bob Willis trophy competition in 2020 and the restructuring of the Championship this year.

Northamptonshire have too named a 13-man squad for the fixture: Adam Rossington (C), Gareth Berg, Nathan Buck, Ben Curran, Emilio Gay, Rob Keogh, Simon Kerrigan, Ben Sanderson, Tom Taylor, Charlie Thurston, Ricardo Vasconcelos, Alex Wakely, Jack White.

Fans will not be allowed to attend the game in person under government guidelines, but live streams will be available to access through Kent’s website.