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Kent Spitfires batsman Daniel Bell-Drummond confident side can qualify for T20 Blast knockout stages ahead of campaign-opening game with Middlesex at Chelmsford

Daniel Bell-Drummond is optimistic Kent Spitfires can qualify for the knockout stages of the T20 Blast competition.

Bell-Drummond, Kent’s red-ball captain, will now switch his focus to the shortest format as Sam Billings’ Spitfires start against Middlesex at Chelmsford today before a trip to Southampton on Sunday to face the Hampshire Hawks.

Daniel Bell-Drummond - is ready for the start of Kent Spitfires’ T20 Blast season. Picture: Keith Gillard
Daniel Bell-Drummond - is ready for the start of Kent Spitfires’ T20 Blast season. Picture: Keith Gillard

Kent struggled in the Blast last year, but they won the competition in 2021 and batsman Bell-Drummond is confident they can once again earn a top-four finish in the South group.

“I believe we’re good enough to,” said the 30-year-old.

“We just have got to put our best foot forward and back ourselves when it comes to the crunch time. With the amount of quality players that we have in the changing room, when we’re on our best day, I think we’re a match for anyone.

“So, we’re definitely looking forward to that.”

Talented Australian overseas fast bowler Xavier Bartlett has arrived ahead of Spitfires’ T20 Blast campaign while wicketkeeper Billings is also due to return to first-team action for the first time since he became the county’s second-ever white-ball contracted player over the winter.

Bell-Drummond noted: “Having Xavier come in is a massive addition.

“Obviously, Sam Billings will be back, which will be great. We’re all looking forward to seeing him.

“There’s a lot to look forward to. Hopefully, the crowds come in because it’s always good playing in front of a home crowd here. We’re really looking forward to that competition.

“We’re set-up very nicely for that and, hopefully, a few guys are getting back fit, as well. It’s a welcome change.

“Hopefully, we can get some wins on the board.”

Unusually, Kent’s first “away” T20 game against Middlesex will not be played at Lord’s.

Bell-Drummond said: “It’s a weird one, isn’t it?

“It’s at Chelmsford - a ground we have done well at in this format - so, whoever it’s against there, we’re going to back ourselves.

“Middlesex are a good team, but I think we have got a good record against them. Hopefully, we can continue that.”

Kent will move away from red-ball cricket for the time being at the foot of the County Championship Division 1 table, despite beating second-bottom Lancashire this month. Matt Walker’s men are nine points from safety.

Reflecting on the start of their four-day campaign, with Kent now not playing County Championship cricket until late June, Bell-Drummond stated: “It’s been a tough seven games.

“I think we have shown some good signs in patches - the win at Old Trafford is at the top of that.

“But there’s a lot of things happening, like having five bowlers injured. If you put that on any team, it’s going to be a completely different outlook. The guys are giving everything in the field, I can’t fault them.

“Obviously, Wes (Agar) going down in the first session of the first day (against Essex) didn’t help.

“There’s a few things that aren’t going our way but, at the end of the day, we haven’t been good enough.

“We need to improve if we’re going to make strides up the league.

“The T20s are coming up now, so it’s a good time to reflect.”

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