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Published: 06:00, 11 July 2019
Matt Milnes is absorbing all he can from the opportunity to work under the guidance of Allan Donald at Kent.
The seamer boasts 41 first-class wickets in his debut season in Canterbury after producing match figures of 7-115 in Kent's win over Surrey.
With nearly 700 List A wickets to his name, South Africa legend Donald is an ideal mentor for Milnes as he strives to refine his white-ball expertise.
Miles said: “We went to Paarl where he’s from in February time and the bowlers did six weeks with him before the season which was pretty cool.
“When I signed I was a little bit starstruck, you watch him on TV and then suddenly he’s coaching you how to bowl.
“I think especially the white-ball skills more than anything he’s helped with. With red-ball, personally, I think I’m in a better place and a bit more experienced, but for me personally he’s helped my white-ball skills.”
Having led Kent with 16 wickets in a testing Royal London One-Day Cup campaign, Milnes remains keen to improve his reliability as a death bowler in the 50-over format.
He added: “That’s ideally what I want to do in white-ball cricket. I feel like I’ve found a bit of a role in red-ball cricket, in white-ball cricket I showed in patches what I could do in the 50-over comp.
“While it didn’t always go to plan, with a year of experience in that I’ve learnt more in that competition than I had in the last three years in the second team playing white-ball cricket. You clearly benefit from that experience.
“I’ll hopefully be better off for it. If you had offered me this kind of start to my Kent career I’d have snapped your hand off.”
The former Nottinghamshire man came to back to haunt his former employers in June’s win at Tunbridge Wells as he picked up his maiden career five-fer.
“It was a pretty sweet feeling actually,” admitted Milnes. “I obviously played with them for a year or two so to show them how much I’ve improved was quite nice, but obviously to get the win was the main thing.
“As a unit I think we’ve bowled well this year, everybody has chipped in. Podders (Podmore) is Podders, he just does his thing week in-week out, you know what you’re going to get.
“We’ve all bowled pretty well and built good partnerships.”
Milnes’ early success at Kent has evidently been helped by the welcoming environment he stepped into upon his arrival.
He said: “I genuinely can’t speak highly enough of the group we’ve got here. The changing room is brilliant.
“Ever since I came in November, they’ve all been brilliant. I can’t speak highly enough of them, they’re a great bunch of lads.
“Everybody wants each other to do well which is brilliant, even the lads that aren’t playing are rooting for you which is really healthy.”
A familiar theme to Kent’s season has been a frustration over poor sessions while in promising positions to win games – something Milnes believes will be ironed out over time in Division 1.
“To be fair, while we’ve not won that many games I still think we’ve put in some very good performances,” he explained.
“It’s just been a little lapse here and there that has sort of cost us games. In general I think if you look at sessions across all the games, we’ve won quite a few but just not won the game.
“It is quite tough but we knew coming into this year that would be the case. We are a young side at the end of the day and there are a lot of people learning about their game.”