Former Kent batsman Matt Walker says he is thrilled to return home to Kent County Cricket Club as assistant coach
Matt Walker in action for Kent
Former favourite Matt Walker wants to put the pride back in the Kent shirt after returning to the fold as part of a new-look coaching set-up at the club he calls home.
Walker, who turned 40 last month, has been coaching at Essex since the end of a 19-year playing career in 2011, with more than 15 years spent at the Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence.
The Gravesend-born batsman scored more than 12,000 first class runs for Kent, including 28 centuries, one of which was a knock of 275 against Somerset at Canterbury in 1996 which remains the highest ever individual score at the ground.
Walker – whose first day in his new role as Kent assistant coach was Monday – said: “It feels great to be back. It feels right.
“This is home for me. I spent the majority of my career here, I grew up here. I was tied to the club from the age of nine all the way through until I left, which didn’t happen as I would have chosen it but I had three great years at Essex and I learned a lot there. I wouldn’t change anything.”
Rob Key’s return as Kent skipper before Christmas hastened the return of his former team-mate and close friend,
The former King’s School, Rochester pupil said: “This all came about through a pretty casual conversation with Keysey after he accepted the captaincy.
“He told me he wanted to put a team and support staff around him that he can trust.
“He spoke to Jimmy and the offer came out of the blue really. It was a tough decision as I had a good job at Essex and it was starting to show signs of development.
“The thing is, though, that it’s Kent. It’s where I want to be. I have a passion for the county, I hope that came through in every game that I played and I want to show it every day as part of the coaching set-up. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
He added: “Working with Rob was a big draw. I know how he works, Jimmy Adams is a guy I respect hugely and Simon Willis (high performance director) and I joined the club on the same day when we were kids.
“Geographically. it’s a no-brainer as I still live in Whitstable. It’s a great opportunity and one I couldn’t let pass me by.”
Walker even hinted that he could find himself as the main man in the dressing room later in his career, adding: “Who knows, one day I’d love to be Kent coach but I’ll take it one step at a time for now.”
Kent were viewed as underachievers last season, however, Walker insisted: “I am immensely looking forward to the challenge. There is a lot of talent here.”
During his playing days, Walker was popular with Kent fans and players alike for his larger-than-life character and he admitted: “It is hugely important to have an energy in the dressing room, having the sense of fun is vital, as is the pride you take from playing for Kent.
“It was always something we had in abundance during my playing days.
“I’m not going to comment on what it’s been like the last few years because I have been on the outside but I have my own perception of it.”
Despite fun being high on the agenda, Walker insisted hard work is key to achieving success in 2014.
He said: “It’s a pretty simple solution, there is no magic wand, success has got to come from having the right work ethic.
“I am fortunate to have good existing relationships with several of the senior players and staff and I know we have plenty to work with.
“I know there is a lot of young talent in the squad too – I have seen them around the circuit in the Kent League and played with one or two. It’s what excites me the most about coaching, working with the younger players.”
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