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Stevens hoping to bring Kent success
Stevens hoping to bring Kent success

If Saturday turns out to be Darren Stevens’ last appearance in a Kent shirt, he hopes to win the Royal London One Day Cup at Trent Bridge.

The 46 year old will take to the pitch on Saturday against Lancashire knowing there is every chance he won’t be pulling on a Kent short again after they declined to renew his contract at the end of the summer.

Still in the form of his life, many have questioned whether the hierarchy at Kent have lost their minds with Stevens having hoped to have secured a player / coach role at Canterbury having been playing for the county for the past 17 seasons.

“It hurts,” says Stevens a month after Kent declined to offer him a new deal.

“I don’t want to fight any more,” Stevens said “I feel like for the last five years I’ve been fighting for a contact where in three of those five years I’ve got Player of the Year, so I don’t know how that actually works.”

“It was gut-wrenching and really disappointing and it still hurts because I feel like I still have a lot to give for Kent cricket, on and off the pitch. But unfortunately the decision’s been made by the hierarchy.”

“I’d like to think I’ve still got the fight in me to churn out a couple of hundreds and a couple of five-fors but unfortunately I’ve not been picked in the four-day stuff. That’s disappointing as well, so I can’t really put a fight up. So yeah, it hurts. It hurts.”

Speaking ahead of Saturday’s final, Stevens admitted it’s been a long past week.

“It will be emotional,” Stevens said. “We’ve had too much thinking time this week. I’ve been talking about it a lot and I’ve been thinking about it more than I would do.”

“I’ll be a bit nervous but when you get across the rope, you’re back on your job and I’ll have a clear mind on what I’m doing, batting or bowling. It’s hard to explain. It might be my last game for Kent, it might my last professional game.”

“Somebody asked me a while ago about walking out at Kent in a four-day game for the last time. Well, I think I’ve already done that.”

“But it was like, ‘say it was the last game of the season, what would that be like?’ And I said, ‘you can’t ask me that question because I can’t answer it.’ I don’t want it to stop but it might be taken out of my hands.”

As to why Kent haven’t offered him a new deal, Stevens explained:

“They don’t think you can be a player in a changing room and then go straight into coaching in a changing room.”

“I’ll look at it differently, because it’s from a selfish point of view… the group of lads that we’ve got at Kent at the moment, I feel like I’m like a mentor to them anyway, not only a team-mate and a good friend.”

“You naturally just do it, I feel like I naturally just help. A lot of the lads at the moment, they talk to me a lot about their batting and some of them about their bowling. That’s where I want to go.

“I’d love to stay at Kent but obviously they’ve made it very clear that they’d like me to go away and then maybe one day I’ll come back. We’ll see what happens.”

Stevens said he had found it particularly hard seeing Kent struggle in the Championship – they are third from bottom in Division One and face a three-way battle with Somerset and Warwickshire to avoid being relegated alongside last-placed Gloucestershire.Stevens hasn’t played a four-day game since mid-May.

He scored 148 runs at 24.66 during his limited appearances in the Championship and took four wickets at an average of 92.75.

“They gave me the one-day stuff, I’ve done okay in the one-day game,” Stevens said. “Looking at that semi-final knock, that was probably as good as I’ve played for a long time.”

“Unfortunately they’ve taken it of my hands so I can’t perform in four-day cricket because they’ve not given me an opportunity. But the other thing with that is we’re losing games.”

“For the last 17 years for Kent, when we’ve been in trouble it’s been my job to try and get us out of trouble and when I’m sitting there watching us lose games it really hurts.”

“But there’s nothing I can do bar support he lads as I always do. But it hurts when I see my team losing.”

Letting Stevens go could be one of the most reckless decisions ever. Fans are determined that the club will change their minds as they have in the past. Only time will tell.

In the meantime, Stevens has a date on Saturday and who’d bet against him being the match winner?