Walker frustrated by lack of cricket
Walker frustrated by lack of cricket

With the domestic cricket season delayed now until at least August, KSN has been talking to Kent coach Matt Walker about all of his frustrations as he and his squad have been left kicking their heels under predominantly sunny skies.

The Kent coach admitted, “I don’t think any of us has really processed it as it’s such a bizarre situation – you’re caught in two minds really because number one, you appreciate the severity of what’s gone on that’s for sure – the deaths that have happened across our country and around the world.”

“This is a pretty serious situation that the world’s faced and certainly more than most. So, when you start talking about “missing” cricket, it always sounds “is it that important?” It’s what we do – it’s our jobs, and we build up to the start of the season as we would do every year!”

“But for it not to happen is certainly a unique experience and has been quite hard to deal with.”

“You’re not quite sure how to really have approached it. You spend all the hard work in the winter with all the planning that you’re doing; the boys have worked incredibly hard and then for it not to arrive, it feels as if something has left your body – it’s bizarre, it really is!”

“But it is what it is and I think that we’ve all understood that it’s not just us, obviously everyone is in the same boat, so we’ve just got on with it and the guys I hope have taken the positives out of the time off – it’s been hard for some because they’ve all got ambition or a real individual goal that they’re aiming for, whether it’s to try and get into the team, whether it’s to push on for a longer contract or international call up or whatever it might be; everyone wants to get going and we were all very excited about the start of this year!”

“So it’s been peculiar and very frustrating – it must have been quite hard to motivate yourselves and some of the players have found that a little bit difficult, but we’ve kept going and we’ve kept the guys pretty motivated through the few things that we’ve been able to do through furlough – the boys have trained blooming hard physically that is for sure and now we’re just keeping our fingers crossed and hoping that it may be August the first to get back and play some competitive cricket!”

In the final days before Lockdown, the Kent squad had been about to start their pre-season in South Africa as Walker explained.

“We had sent our fast bowlers out to Potchefstroom a week in advance of the rest of the group going out – they had a great week before we arrived – then four days later, everyone is back on the plane heading home before we finished our pre-season trip.”

“We didn’t have any time back at Canterbury, which is obviously a very important part of the build up to a new season as that’s when the real excitement and anticipation and the energy starts to flow as you put the finishing touches on the plans.”

“You start to pick your first team as things really start to build up. We didn’t have that – we waved farewell to each other at the airport and haven’t seen each other in the flesh since and that in itself is bizarre!”

“We didn’t really know what we were coming back to as everything happened so quickly. I’d spoken to my wife daily from South Africa – when we left it was fine; there were mumblings I suppose, although having said that there was a question mark talking about whether we should go or not.”

“I don’t think that there was the information around as no-one quite knew how serious it was going to be. We had to brace ourselves for when we came back because you don’t know what to expect when you get home.”

“We walked through the airport and there wasn’t really much going on. I think there was a couple of airport workers there with hand gel squeezers and a pamphlet which was about it really – we just strolled on through and that was it!”

“It was only really two or three days after that things really got serious. There were still the questions then if we would go back or not; we had to wait whilst all the information came through from the Government and ever since we’ve really just been waiting – and we’re still waiting!”

“We’re getting bits of news with the last bit of hope probably the most positive with the potential of August 1st for the County game after the Test series with the West Indies hopefully begins at the start of next month – it’s been a long wait, but I don’t think any of us who left to go to South Africa thought we’d be coming back and not play any cricket for four or five months.”

“I suppose it’s more frustrating for sportsmen who were in mid-season as they haven’t been able to finish their season and I suspect that the challenge coming back having had that break to try and get the momentum back will be tough.”

“We haven’t even started yet so in some ways, we will be in a “better” position albeit with a very short season – we will have a bit of a build-up; it won’t be quite the preparation that we would normally have but there will be something.”

“We’ve done a lot of work behind the scenes; we’ve kept in touch with the players as much as we can do – they’ve been talking cricket amongst themselves – we’ve been thinking about our plans and ideas albeit they can’t put them into practice physically but they’ve been doing things on the mental side of the game!”

“Of course, it’s not the same as getting out there and doing it and training and putting it into practice and actually playing but it’s what it’s all about. It would have been very strange to get halfway through the season and just stop dead – that would have been very bizarre, and I do feel for the footballers.”

KSN has a series of five exclusive interviews with Matt Walker with the next out on Tuesday.