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Kent director of cricket Paul Downton says South African all-rounder George Linde can help fill void not properly covered since 2018

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The arrival of South African all-rounder George Linde at Kent can help fill a void which has not properly been covered for four years, according to director of cricket Paul Downton.

Linde, 30, has agreed to join on an all-format deal for the next two years.

Kent's director of cricket Paul Downton. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Kent's director of cricket Paul Downton. Picture: Barry Goodwin

He is one of four overseas players due at The Spitfire Ground and will provide an option as an experienced left-arm spinner, the sort of frontline spinner which Downton says Kent haven’t really had since James Tredwell retired in 2018, as well as batting in the middle-order.

Afghanistan leg-spinner Qais Ahmad is back for the Spitfires’ T20 Blast defence this year while Australian seamer Jackson Bird is available for up to the first six County Championship games as they return to Division 1 and he headed for the UK earlier this week.

New Zealander Matt Henry is expected to join up with Kent from July 10.

Commenting on the make-up of Kent’s 2022 squad, Downton said: “I think it’s a work-in-progress, going back a number of years, really.

“I think the younger guys that have come in over the last two or three years are all just gaining experience.

“Someone like Jordan Cox, who joined us (in the senior set-up) aged 17, was man-of-the-match in the final in the Blast last year. He is now 21 and a much better player than he was.

“He had his opportunity opening the batting last year, for example, and learnt a huge amount. You could say that about a number of players - we’ve got some good, young players.

“But also, where we have had the odd - I won’t say weakness - but where we have looked to improve, George Linde is coming in as an experienced left-arm spinner.

“We have got some very talented young guys on the staff but we haven’t really had an experienced spinner since James Tredwell left a few years ago. So I think that will definitely help us as a bowling attack.

“The fact he is a left-handed all-rounder, as well, will make a difference in our middle-order. When George arrives, I think we will look a more balanced side.

Downton says Kent have not had a frontline spinner since James Tredwell retired in 2018. Picture: Andy Jones
Downton says Kent have not had a frontline spinner since James Tredwell retired in 2018. Picture: Andy Jones

“From last year, we say goodbye to Imran Qayyum through injury, Tim Groenewald through injury and Heino Kuhn who was actually injured a lot of the time as well.

“In terms of replacing them, coming in are Matt Quinn on a full-time contract, James Logan and add in Ben Compton who is a really interesting signing.

"He hasn’t played very much first-class cricket but I think he has been a very strong scorer in second-team cricket.

“Jas Singh, as a rookie seamer out of Dartford, is a great addition, alongside George who I have already mentioned.

“Then with the other overseas players, for the Championship, we are going to have Jackson Bird for the first five or six games and then Matt Henry for the second-half of the season.

“I think our seam attack - which is already strong - looks significantly enhanced by having those two guys.

“It’s a lot of competition for places but people are really looking forward to it.”

Linde has played three Test matches after making his debut in October 2019, along with two One-Day Internationals and 14 T20 games, but finds himself out of South Africa’s reckoning at present.

With South Africa due to tour England this summer, Downton didn’t completely rule out the prospect of Linde earning another international call-up, but expects him to be available throughout the summer if that doesn’t happen.

Downton added: “The attraction of George coming to us is he has a great first-class track record - 214 wickets in 60-odd games and a batting average in excess of 30.

“But his one-day stats, particularly his T20 stats, are excellent too. So he is an all-format player, without doubt.

“He is not playing international cricket at the moment. He has been in and around the Test side, but with (Keshav) Maharaj still playing in South Africa and (Tabraiz) Shamsi coming through, and all that entails, he has basically made himself available for the summer.

“Now we shall wait and see whether South Africa coming over here in the summer give him another chance to play international cricket.

“But by and large, he is planning on being available for the whole of our summer, which is why we have offered him a two-year deal on that basis.

“I think he will make a big difference to the balance of our side.”

Linde was South Africa’s 2021 domestic four-day Cricketer of the Year and has been playing in the CSA Provincial One-Day Challenge.

Kent will start their County Championship Division campaign against Essex at Chelmsford on Thursday.

More coverage from Kent's press day ahead of the new season will follow next week

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