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Kent's Mitch Claydon says county's younger bowlers are constantly pushing him to improve

By Mark Stokes

Mitch Claydon says competition among Kent’s bowlers is fiercer than ever but that’s his motivation for getting out of bed in the mornings.

The 34-year-old has become one of the pivotal figures in Kent’s attack since moving from Durham in 2013 but says that does not mean he ever takes his place for granted.

Claydon spent five-and-half months over the winter working hard in Australia and his reward has been a return of 10 wickets from Kent’s opening two championship games, taking his career tally across all formats to 522.

Mitch Claydon Picture Chris Davey

Mitch Claydon Picture: Chris Davey

Claydon, whose First-Class debut was for Yorkshire in 2005, said: “For the last 13 years I know what I have to do, the ball’s in my court when they (Kent) allow me to go away for five months, I have to show them I’m still keen and eager.

“All these young blokes are getting better and better so I’ve got to come back better and better every year.

“It’s something I’ve thrived off because the young blokes are driving me every day to get fitter and better because if I slacken off by 5%, they’re going to take my spot, so it’s getting me out of bed every morning and keeps me training.”

During his time with Yorkshire, Durham and Kent, Claydon has played more than 300 games and is closing in on a century of championship appearances.

The 6ft 4in paceman says he loves being a mentor to Kent’s younger bowlers – a role he hasn’t necessarily had at his two previous clubs.

He said: “My responsibility at the other counties (I played for) was never that because we had so many Test bowlers, so to come down here where it is a younger group and have that senior role is something that I’ve loved. Just them being able to come and ask for advice is something I relish.”

With 48 victims last season Claydon was Kent’s leading wicket taker in the championship – finishing 11 clear of his nearest rivals. The whole-hearted seamer got through 399.4 overs – only Darren Stevens (401.1) bowled more – with his performances earning him his cap and a new contract.

He also lies fifth in Kent’s all-time list of T20 wicket takers and admits he enjoys playing in the Garden of England although one thing would make the experience better – if Kent were to win a trophy.

Claydon added: “We just need to win that one big game and we’ll never look back.”

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