Walker busy ahead of new season
Walker busy ahead of new season

With three weeks to go until Kent’s first LV= Insurance County Championship match of the Summer, Head Coach Matt Walker is enjoying a busier period for the county compared to this time last year.

“That period involved lot of walking, cycling and time with the family – not much else outside activity! We then had our short but sweet season in 2020.

“I’ve then spent a lot of time with some of the guys in the Indoor School at Canterbury from the start of January this year to work on our Winter training programme.

“It’s been a brilliantly productive Winter for us actually. It has its challenges of course with all the COVID protocols that you need to stick with, but overall I thin kit’s gone really well and everyone’s in a really good place.”

“The good thing coming out of this Winter is that we’ve done a lot of one-on-one training, much more than usual, including fitness work with Rob Chave and our new Second XI S&C Coach, Alex Brown.

“Our boys always work extremely hard on their fitness, but this increased one-on-one time helped us learn that bespoke practices and tailored work based on players’ end of season appraisals were something we could really move on with this Winter.

“Every Winter, of course, you hope players improve; but in this period we’ve certainly felt that the lads really got into the ‘nitty gritty’ of their programmes both on fitness and their cricket, and we’ve noticed a real improvement in everybody.

“It’s a shame that we haven’t gone away this pre-season, but everyone is in the same boat at the moment. We’ve missed that warm weather training outside and unfortunately the weather hasn’t been too great here in the past few days, but we have to adapt as always.”

And with a squad filled with experience and also youthful talent at his disposal, ‘Walks’ is excited with the potential options he will have available to him and the coaches at Kent this year.

“Everybody in this dressing room has now played a game of first-team cricket in the past season, which isn’t common, really.

“With the lack of overseas players available last season, a lot of younger players were given more of an opportunity that maybe they wouldn’t have had last year, and they all showed that they can do it at this level.

“We’ve got a very competitive squad this year; probably the most competitive that I can remember for a very long time at the Club. With that comes the challenge of managing that, with everyone wanting to play, and knowing they can.

“But we’ve been working hard to get to this level of competition for places for a few years now; to formulate a squad that challenges each other and puts pressure on playing positions. Hopefully with that comes more hunger and desire, and the pressure helps bring out the best in our players.

“We’ll obviously have some disappointed players from time to time, but I think they all understand the bigger picture that this Club is trying to be as successful as it can be. To do that, you need people to be fighting for their position and to keep that hunger across the board.

“It’s also good for us as coaches, knowing that whoever you pick to play will come in and do a very good job to the best of their ability.”

And joining this group of ‘hungry’ players comes a West Indies international in Miguel Cummins.

“Miguel brings in Test experience and knowledge of what it takes to get to the very top. He’s an exciting, dynamic bowler, with pace and carry. We certainly saw that first hand when he bowled very well for Middlesex against us last year.

“He brings a bit more firepower to our already skilled bowling attack. I think when you bring a player of that quality into your group, it’s exciting. I hope our younger players feed off that, and learn a lot from him.

“When you sign an overseas player, you want something a little bit different. There’s no point in signings players with similar skills to what you already have. Miguel brings something a little bit different to us; bowling with pace and bounce, trying to ‘rattle a few cages’.”

Kent’s Head Coach is then asked about his slightly leftfield picks for the Club’s Pre-Season Playlist series; and he’s quick to defend his players’ choices: “I’d never say there’s a worst one! Music’s very objective, isn’t it. There’s been no ‘glitzy pop’ playlists, which might not be up people’s streets!

“Music is a big part of my life. Music and film have been my passion for a long time, I’ve spent a lot of money on both of those things over the years!

“My Mum was a classical music teacher, so I could’ve gone even more eclectic with my picks for Pre-Season Playlist! My range is enormous: from classic to stuff like garage, grime, rock and all sorts.

“I actually just picked five tracks of a playlist I’ve been into recently, otherwise it would’ve driven me mad trying to only pick five songs.”

“In sports and dressing rooms, music’s in there a lot and it’s on all the time. It’s actually a really good thing to have around, and it gives people a bit of focus, to help them concentrate and focus.

“It’s a big thing in our dressing room and definitely a big thing for me.”

Picture supplied by Max Flego Photography.