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Kent Cricket's Jack Leaning says constant switching of formats has turned this summer's schedule into a shambles

Kent’s Jack Leaning has branded this summer’s schedule a “shambles” as players chop and change between the game’s different formats.

Leaning and his team-mates have had to swap T20 Blast mode for County Championship cricket again this week as players switch disciplines once more.

Jack Leaning bats for Kent during this week's draw at The Oval. Picture: Keith Gillard
Jack Leaning bats for Kent during this week's draw at The Oval. Picture: Keith Gillard

“I personally think it’s an absolute joke,” said Leaning. “I think it’s a bit of a shambles, to be honest.

“As players we’re expected to just dart between the two formats with very little rest and to perform at our best is hard.

“I think sometimes the powers that be - I imagine there’s a lot more things that go on - but they want to get as many people in.

“I appreciate there sometimes needs to be red-ball cricket around for people going to England or to appease members, but from a player’s perspective, it’s bloody difficult.”

The team’s run of T20 matches was interrupted by a round of County Championship matches last month - which saw Kent beat Gloucestershire at Canterbury - before they returned to T20 action for four games.

Now after their Championship clash with Surrey this week, Kent are back in T20 action against Surrey today and Glamorgan on Sunday before another block of County Championship games begins.

It’s not so much the number of games that are the issue - that’s an argument for another day - it’s the constant switching of formats that has proved disruptive for the players.

Finding time to practise is hard enough in the county schedule, so teams having to travel across the country post-T20 games with barely 24 hours to prepare for a four-day match is challenging, to say the least.

Leaning explained: “Last week we got back at four in the morning from Somerset for a T20 and then we’re having to play a Championship game the next morning. It’s just stupid.

“I get that there are four competitions to squeeze in but, for me, why can’t we just have everything in a block by itself? Or, if we’re going to play Championship games in the middle of T20, don’t play two more T20s in the middle of those Championship games.

“Actually play it in a block of three or four games and then finish off the T20 competition.

“To jump between the two is hard enough when you’ve got injuries and you’re in the middle of a season anyway, let alone trying to do it with a depleted squad.

“We finished a T20 two days [before playing Surrey], we had an optional training session on Saturday and there’s that balance between rest and play so it’s not easy.

“It’s part of the game now and you have to find a way of doing it as a player, but for me it needs to be addressed and I think just by adjusting a couple of things it could be really made a lot easier from a players’ perspective.”

With skipper Sam Billings a late Covid replacement in the England squad, Leaning resumed captaincy duties in the four-day format at Surrey.

It’s a tough gig with injuries biting hard and Kent had a makeshift bowling attack on what was a good batting surface at The Oval.

“I’ve got utmost respect for bowlers, it’s not an easy job with the scheduling at the moment,” said 28-year-old Leaning, who wasn’t looking to make excuses.

“We played a T20 two days ago and, with the injuries that we’ve had around, you can’t be angry at people or having a go at people.

"If someone’s attitude is off or they’re not pulling their weight then I’ll come down on them hard, but I can never have a go at somebody for not executing their skill - nobody is trying to get it wrong and the same can be said when I bat.

“We’re all judged on our end column but there’s a hell of a lot more that goes on behind the scenes, a lot more than the people outside the boundary rope always see.”

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