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Walker proud of Kent pair
Walker proud of Kent pair

Head Coach Matt Walker has told Kent Sports News of his pride that Kent Cricket batsman Zak Crawley has been joined by skipper Sam Billings in the England Test team.

Billings became the latest Kent player to take to the field in an England XI as the Ashes continued in Hobart.

Winning the toss and electing to field first, Australia closed the first day’s play on 241/6 with Crawley having taken three catches in the field whilst Billings looked solid behind the stumps after being given the gloves with both Jos Buttler and Jonny Bairstow injured.

KSN spoke exclusively to Kent coach Matt Walker about the pair having been included in the England side and he beamed with pride:

“Whenever anyone walks out for England whatever format it be, its great to see Kent players on the team-sheet, and to see two potentially walking out in an Ashes Test match is extremely exciting for all of us,” the coach admitted to KSN before the Hobart Test began.

“It makes us all very proud – it doesn’t happen that often; I can’t actually remember the last time it did, especially in an Ashes Test – it is a great thing for the Club if it does happen, there will be some very proud people around the county, and I’m looking forward to staying up or getting up to watch it!”

Crawley’s 77 in the second innings of the Sydney Test served as the foundations for England to salvage the draw – a feat that impressed his County coach. “He did very well,” Walker confessed.

“It’s been a very tough series for England and I’m not going to comment on other players trials and tribulations that they’ve been through – all I can talk about is Zak and he is a very good player and I think England are very aware of that and after the innings in Sydney a few more people around the world are too!”

“He’s gone through a patch and as I told KSN when he got left out at the start of the summer, he’s a young player learning the game still. There was always going to be a “speed-bump” in his road at some stage… and there it was!”

“He came out of it, came back to us at Canterbury, re-established himself a bit, working on a few things that he needed to work on: hitting the reset button a little bit. We knew that he hadn’t become a bad player overnight and now six months later, he’s back in the side playing beautifully!”

“Everyone who watches him bat can see his quality!”

Billings meanwhile made his Test debut after spending the winter in the BBL – something that Walker conceded was probably a bonus. “The step-up will be massive for him! He’s come up from a winter of white ball cricket and it’s an opportunity that’s come out of almost nowhere, I guess.”

“He was involved as a reserve in the summer – they (England) know him; he’s in their eye-line. Of course, being in Australia in the first place helped without doubt and he’ll see it as a massive opportunity and a bit of a free hit in some ways.”

“The great thing about Sam is that he’s a great character and that will hopefully serve him well in Test cricket – he usually rises to the occasion and there’s no reason in my mind that he couldn’t do the same in Hobart!”

“He’s in good form – the colour of the ball? Don’t worry about it too much – just see the ball and play! He’s had some prep time now and it’s exciting for him and let’s not forget he is a very good player and he has been around England sides for a while now – he does deserve a bit of a break whether people agree with the selection or not.”

“He’s been the “next guy in for while and picked up an injury just before the last World Cup – it’ll be great if he is able to do what we know he can do.”

Picture supplied by Max Flego Photography.