Stevens proud to make Spitfires champions
Stevens proud to make Spitfires champions

Darren Stevens has had to beg for T20 game-time for Kent Spitfires – now he has vindication.

The 45-year-old all-rounder hadn’t featured for the county in the format since 2017, even being forced to head to Derbyshire on loan in 2018, before becoming a regular again this season.

His second coming has resulted in 153 runs – including an outrageous unbeaten 47 in the semi-final – 11 wickets and a winner’s medal – after the Spitfires beat Somerset by 25 runs at Edgbaston.

“I’ve been gutted over the last four years not getting a chance,” Stevens admitted. “It has been a strong side and I was pushing my case but this winter I really pushed hard.

“The way I have played in the Champo, where I’ve been aggressive, and it showed I still have the shots in me.

“I’ve definitely got the desire to play white-ball cricket and win trophies. I’m still playing the game because I want to win trophies and win games of cricket for Kent – and I showed tonight that I still have it in there.

“The older I get the more I feel like I’m vying to get myself in the side and to walk away with a trophy is unbelievable.

“I’ve got no interest in stopping. As long as I can keep myself fit, look after my body and the eyes stay good, I’ll be alright.”

Stevens played in 11 of the group stage matches to help Spitfires storm the South Group.

But he was left out of the quarter-final clash with Warwickshire, with Alex Blake getting the nod from captain Sam Billings and head coach Matt Walker instead.

The decision did not go down well with Stevens, but did set about a promise from the veteran.

“I am very tight with Sam and Walks,” he said. “If I didn’t show that [anger at being left out] then they will be disappointed in me. It is the passion for the club and playing cricket. I want to be at the forefront of any big match situation.

“Sam and Walks pulled me aside five minutes before the toss and said I was going to miss out and they were going to play Blakey.

“I just said to them ‘get me to Finals Day and I’ll win you the comp’.

“I knew that if we got to Finals Day and the big game situations, I wanted a piece of it.”

Stevens has now won the Blast twice with Kent, having previously lifted the trophy in 2007.

That side didn’t go on to add to the Canterbury trophy cabinet but with the likes of final hero Jordan Cox, England’s Zak Crawley and a squad of exciting talent, Stevens doesn’t think there will be another lean 14 years for the county.

“The two sides are very similarly matches,” Stevens said, when asked to compare the two Kent T20 winning teams. “The only thing I’d say is that we were probably a little bit more experienced back then. The average age now is around 25 when back then it was 30.

“In every comp [this team has a big future]. When we’ve had a full side in the Championship over the last few years, we’ve been one of the best sides.

“All forms of cricket we’re lucky to have a lot of depth and we have a strong squad for the next five or ten years.”