Walker proud of England players
Walker proud of England players

With the return of Test cricket now hopefully just a few short weeks away with Kent’s Joe Denly and Zak Crawley in contention to play at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton, KSN has been talking to Kent coach Matt Walker about his feelings as at least two of his players will soon be playing cricket once again.

Walker told us, “I hope that the Kent members and supporters are as excited and proud as I am, as all the coaches are, as all the team are because I think we’re probably in a position as a club where we’ve got Joe and Zak involved in the Test squad and Sam (Billings) has just got back in the one-day squad which is great – I know he fell out of it over the back end of the winter, but he’s now back in the shake up for the one day stuff.”

“We’ve got three England players part of the squad; we’ve had two England Lions in Ollie Robinson and Matthew Milnes over the winter and another two young Lions – all Kent players and I can’t remember that happening where we’ve had that many players involved in England teams throughout the calendar year.”

He went on, “I think it’s great and when you’ve got your county players playing for England, I think it creates such a positive energy around the place – certainly around the club – it speaks very highly of what the club are trying to do; it speaks very highly of the players – obviously how well they’ve done and how hard that they’ve worked to get there and I hope that the members and supporters feel the same.”

“I’m sure that they are – I’d be very surprised if they weren’t thrilled and delighted to see Joe and Zak wearing the England shirt whether they’re batting together or playing in the same Test match – with Sam or Joe (or both) in the one day stuff, I find it very emotional; you’re so invested in their lives and their careers and in some small way, you’re involved in it – they do all the work to get themselves there, but you’re part of that dream getting there.”

“When you see them out there, and I admit that I don’t watch a huge amount of international cricket because you’re so busy with your own domestic cricket to find the time,” the Kent coach admitted.

“When your own players are playing some how you’ll find the time to watch the highlights and try to watch as much of it as you can.”

“As there’s no domestic cricket and there won’t be before the England stuff starts, it will be great for the Kent fans just to watch any cricket but certainly when you’ve got two of your own playing it does give you much more of a vested interest – absolutely – I hope there’s going to be a few more down the line.”

“That’s what we’re trying to do; we’re trying to produce really good Kent cricketers and hopefully really good England cricketers, and at the moment it’s working and I think that we’ve got a few players playing in the England sides, it gives the others real drive and real inspiration to try and follow suit.”

“We’re not going to get much domestic cricket for a little while still but to watch Kent players walk out for England, it’ll certainly whet the appetite of the Kent fans certainly!”

Like many cricket fans the only “available” games have been the recorded archives on our satellite channels. “I’ve watched some of the old highlights, but I’ve watched more domestic cricket,” Walker confessed.

“I’ve been watching our own footage that we have and you catch up on a few bits and pieces. In some ways it’s been nice to have a real break – I’ve used it in that way; I’ve been furloughed so I can’t “work” so to have an unscheduled break like this really, which came out of the blue when we were anticipating an incredibly busy season, probably more tense than any season we’ve ever had just the way it was shaped.”

“Certainly, at the back end of last season, I was done – I was as tired as I’ve ever been, I don’t know why that was – it was just emotional. The T20 was a very emotional journey where we didn’t quite get through after looking like we should and that took a lot out of us!”

“At the end of the season, I was pretty exhausted. That said, you’re back into it quite quickly in the winter months. But to have two or three months off, you see a good opportunity just to recharge the batteries and actually not think about cricket that much which I think has done all of us a bit of good!”

“I’ve kept an eye on the TV and seen some of the old games – a few of the T20 replays which has been quite good fun really especially those that you’ve been involved in. When it’s on, I’m not glued to it but I keep an eye on it for sure!”