Walker keen to end on a high
Walker keen to end on a high

Kent’s head coach Matt Walker is challenging his squad to end their testing season on a high as the club prepares for its final game of the Specsavers County Championship at home to Glamorgan from Monday.

Jacques Rudolph, the likeable Glamorgan batsman and former captain, is set to retire from cricket in Canterbury at the end of what will be his 295th first-class game, but Walker is keen to ensure that the popular South African’s send-off is not also a victorious one.

Walker said: “I said before Chesterfield that I wanted to finish the season on a high with a couple of wins, but for several reasons that wasn’t possible.

“We’re back in Canterbury for the final game though, where I hope the guys can show some character by setting the past week behind them and putting in some strong performances.”

The county’s wretched end to the 2017 campaign was made all the worse by last week’s four-day wash out against Derbyshire in Chesterfield where, despite long periods without rain, not a ball was bowled due in the main to a waterlogged outfield.

Kent have since formally registered their displeasure with the ECB after the 11th game in Derbyshire’s history scheduled at Queens Park ended without a ball being bowled,

However, Walker believes there are wider implications at a time of year when players are aiming to earn new contracts. The abandonment also meant that all-rounder Darren Stevens lost his leadership of the prestigious PCA MVP Rankings.

Walker added: “It’s very disappointing because everyone has something to play for at this time of the season. We were looking to give someone a debut [Grant Stewart] and people are playing for milestones and places.”

“When we turned up on day one I think we all knew we weren’t going to bowl a ball on here for the four days and probably not for another four days because it’s just not in a fit state to play cricket.”

“We weren’t in a promotion hunt, had we been god knows what would have happened, everyone would have been absolutely livid about the situation. But that’s not the point really, everyone has different reasons for wanting to impress at this time of year and we wanted to play.”

Sam Northeast, the captain, said the abandonment just about typified Kent’s bad luck throughout the second half to what has become a Jekyll and Hyde season.

He said: “The back end to this year hasn’t really gone our way. We’ve lost loads of time due to rain, we’ve not played
on too many result wickets and we haven’t played our best cricket either, so nothing has really fallen into place.”

“When we have played, we have got into situations throughout the second half to the season where we really have been on top, but we’ve let those situations slip and that has been extremely disappointing.”

“Every player probably needs to take a look at themselves and see where they need to improve. There’s a lot of talent in this squad but they need to start stepping forward and showing what they can do if we’re to go on and be successful as a collective.”

Having missed out on the action in Chesterfield, Australian-born all-rounder Stewart looks set to make his home debut against Glamorgan.

Finally, former Kent president and stalwart of The Mote Cricket Club, in Maidstone, Tony Levick, has died. He served as a ‘non-nonsense’ honorary treasurer for 19 years and was made president and an honorary life member in 1998. The club’s flag will fly at half-mast on Monday in his memory.

Kent v Glamorgan match facts:

Kent are unbeaten in their last five against Glamorgan (W2, D3) and have not lost at home against the side from Wales since 2011 (W1, D4).

Kent are unbeaten in 12 games at Canterbury (W4, D8), their last defeat at their main venue coming in August 2015 against Northamptonshire.

Sam Northeast has scored 3,516 runs since 2015, more than any other player in the County Championship.

Marchant de Lange has scored 52 runs from slog shots this season, more than any other player in either division.