Walker reflects on Bob Willis Trophy
Walker reflects on Bob Willis Trophy

Kent coach Matt Walker has been reflecting on his sides Bob Willis Trophy campaign which ended this week with a three day win over Hampshire at Canterbury.

A win that sadly wasn’t enough to send Kent to Lords for the Final, but for the coach, its been a campaign full of promise.

Speaking to KSN before the Spitfires resumed their T20 campaign, Walker admitted how pleased, and proud he was, of the “red-ball” side.

“I think overall very pleased with the competition,” he told us. “Five games, three wins and one loss, I think we played some really good cricket and I’m really pleased with everything that happened in this comp from the start.

“From going from not very much to full thrust of a four day competition there’s so many positives to look back on, its been a great opportunity as I’ve spoken a lot to you over the weeks for giving young players the opportunity, and not just having it but taking it and seeing the emergence of a few of them really grow into those shoes and just learn.

“You see them learning every day and looking like a better player every time they go out onto the field. That’s been so pleasing.”

“There are really so many positives we can take, our first inning batting has been getting better and better; the bowlers have got better and as a group have bowled brilliantly over the course of the five/six weeks.

“We’ve grown up again, we managed to play some good cricket and I think the excitement that I had at the start of the year, I still feel it now with what I’ve witnessed.

“Its been good and its such a shame that we didn’t quite beat Essex in that first game, if we had things might have been even more exciting. But that said, I think we should be very proud of what we have done, just eight points behind the Champions, and the “best” second placed team points wise, is something to look back on and think its been a good campaign.”

“I definitely think that this group have improved over these five matches, there have been some brilliant individual highlights; two double hundreds, another two hundreds in the competition as well; Stevo is probably the leading wicket taker in the competition.

“The way Marcus O’Riordan has developed; we’ve given opportunities to Fred Klaassen in four-day cricket; Nathan Gilchrist has made his debut and on we go, we keep going on.

“The rotation system worked I think, it wasn’t perfect but it definitely worked, I think you saw a group of bowlers hungry when they played and for us moving forward that is very important that we’re confident with a group of seamers all of whom feel that they deserve to play.

“But as I say all for that slip up in the first game at Chelmsford, we should all be very proud of what we’ve done!”

We then asked the Kent coach for his views on what his side has achieved as opposed to his hopes before the first ball was bowled in anger.

“It’s a very good question,” Walker admitted. “It’s complicated I suppose trying to explain that in some ways we’re still a young group, still a lot of inexperience there which is the same boat that a lot of counties have been in this year.

“Which incidentally is great  and is been thoroughly enjoyable to see that, but we’re just worrying about our group and there’s a lot of inexperience there.

“Milnes and Podmore, now they’re becoming senior bowlers and they’re really still in the early stages of their career, its only Milnesy’s second season with us and third overall and its only Podders third season.”

“We had Zak (Crawley) at the end; we had Bilbo (Sam Billings) and Joe (Denly) for one game, but its been in one way it’s been pleasing to see these guys and new guys coming into the team doing really well.

“There were other good sides in our group and being runners-up is an achievement, but it’s getting to a point now that we need to expect these sort of things, there is now an expectation on us; we’re good enough, we were good enough to beat Essex but didn’t quite do it.”

“I’ve got to keep telling myself just how young our team is, Ollie Robertson, Jordan Cox, Marcus O’Riordan, Hamidullah Qadrii are all under 23.

“In some ways if you’d have said to me on that first day that we were going to finish runners-up, I’m sure I would have said that that would be a good achievement.

“But when the seasons done and dusted and you play so well, you saw how we can compete with Essex and how close we got to beating them, you really do want to take this group to another level and I don’t think we’re a million miles away from winning a competition.”