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Walker wants to have a Blast
Walker wants to have a Blast

In 2021, the Kent Spitfires were the best domestic T20 side in England; in 2022, the Champion Spitfires failed to get out of the qualifying group and this year Matt Walker wants his side to have a blast.

And so, with the 2023 competition starting this week what can we expect and hope for from this year’s Spitfires – KSN has been talking to coach Matt Walker about all aspects T20 ahead of the Gloucestershire Gladiators’ trip to the Spitfire Ground on Wednesday evening.

“We obviously want to improve on last year,” the coach admitted. “” We want to get back to winning ways and back to our performances for 2021 – the squad hasn’t changed a great deal, but we want to start this week and get into the rhythm of playing good T20 cricket.”

“We’ve got to be ready for it and we were fortunate last week to be able to get some white ball cricket practice and under the lights at Canterbury.”

“There have been a number of second team games which would have allowed a number of players to play in for those not in the Championship team. So hopefully our prep will be good!”

“It’s come round very quickly. It’s the part of the season where everyone starts getting very excited – it’s of huge public interest and I know for everyone when T20 season comes around, the juices start to flow – not only from the supporters, but the players too. It always is exciting,”

Walker went on. “It’s a format that the players love playing and want to be in that side. It’s a great competition and I think that our Blast is as good as any T20 competition in the World personally.”

“Last year was really tough. Any competition that you’re in and down in the dumps, not playing very well and not winning games of cricket becomes a very tough place to be.”

“I think it’s the sheer brutality of the nature of T20 cricket – it felt as though if anything could go wrong last year, it could and did!”

“It was puzzling, it was frustrating – all those emotions that you can imagine when you’re not winning as it was so far away from what we’d done the previous year!”

“We couldn’t get any rhythm or performance from any part of our team really – there were individual moments, and we won a couple of games, and we played all right in patches, but for the most part we were way off.”

“That famous word momentum is fascinating – we found in 2021 when we were winning close games, the rhythm came, and you just keep going. When you’re losing games, the next one’s on you and you’re not ready with the hangover of the games before.”

“We’ve done a lot of talking about around T20 on where we fell down. Tinkering with the side; who bats where; what we do when…”

“The bowling has been strengthened by Kane Richardson coming in – and he can’t wait to get going – along with what else we’ve got; we really can’t wait to get going.”

“We’ve almost got to sweep last year under the table and now we’ve got to go into a new campaign – be brave, trust our skills and we know that the players we’ve got come in and do what they can well, we do have a very, very good side!”

“Kane’s arrival excites everyone – we want to play the best players and he’s definitely one of the best in this format. It’ll give everyone excitement – not just the players, but the fans who come to Canterbury to support us – we needed him and a bowler of his quality to come in and bolster our attack and bowl the “hard” overs and he’s excited to be here.”

“There’s energy in the dressing room and with Kane’s experience it gives the other bowlers someone to lean on and tap into.”

With five of these first batch of seven games at the Spitfire Ground, Walker knows just how important the Spitfires fans will be.

“They’re always so important,” the Coach told us. “We’re so lucky to have such an amazing crowd at Canterbury – they are extraordinary!”

“When they’re “on” and engaged in the game, they really help us along and I know that oppositions do not like coming to Canterbury and playing against this crowd.”

“They’re really on our side, they’re really supportive, passionate and partisan which is exactly what we want. When we’re here we think of Canterbury as a bit of a fortress – the fans are our extra man, especially under the lights and the boys love playing in front of them!”

“I just hope and am expecting to see us put on a really exciting competition for them this year – we know we owe them for last year and I do hope that we can treat them all to some really good cricket this year.”

The Spitfires squad will include some players who haven’t featured yet in the Championship team.

“We’ve people like Freddie Klaassen and George Linde who haven’t played really this year yet; they’ve both had great winters, Freddie with the Dutch and George playing really well in different franchise cricket – they’re both keen to get stuck in.”

“Alex Blake will come into the equation and Joe (Denly) and DBD will bring the experience back into the shorter format that we need.”

“We’ve got a good wide squad that we can play around with and if we can play our best that we know we can, hopefully we’ll go a long way to repeating the success of 2021!”

“All said and done, we need thing to go for us, we need the big players to play well, you need consistency through the games and hopefully we’ll get on a roll starting on Wednesday and have a good campaign!”

Picture supplied by Max Flego Photography.