Published: 10:18, 06 April 2021
| Updated: 14:49, 06 April 2021
Head coach Matt Walker believes Kent’s best squad for a number of seasons can deliver silverware this summer.
Perhaps not surprising given his affable nature, Walker has blended together what he described as “the perfect format” at the St Lawrence ground.
A squad sprinkled with international experience, youthful exuberance and consistent county performers has continued to progress under 47-year-old Walker’s tutelage.
Injuries or a loss of form in previous campaigns might have explained a drop in performance, but Walker believes that any of his squad are now capable of commanding a place in his first XI.
“I think it’s the best squad we’ve had for a long time,” said Walker, who still holds the record for the highest score by a Kent player at Canterbury (275 not out v Somerset in 1996).
“The philosophy we have here when we put a group together is where is their ambition from a cricketing point of view and are they really good people? On both of those points I think we’ve got the perfect format. They all get on very well and challenge each other.
“There’s a lovely blend of youth and experience and they are all extremely hungry. They all want to play in the team, they all want to play for England and they all want to be involved in franchise cricket.
“There’s a huge amount of talent in the dressing room, there’s talent around the country and I’m sure every county coach will be saying the same as me at the start of the season. They are ambitious, they’ve got a great bunch of guys in the dressing room and the talent is there. What matters is what happens when you walk across the white line.
“I think this group recognise where we are at, how far we’ve come in quite a short space. We’ve challenged pretty well over the last two or three seasons in all formats and the next step probably is trying to win something. That sounds stupid as you’re always trying to win something, but I think we are ready to go and win something now.
“They genuinely believe it, and it comes down to playing well more often than not. If you do that, then you’ve got a really good chance. We’ve got a depth of squad that means if we do have call-ups or injury then we can cover those bases pretty easily, everyone has played first-class cricket here, so with confidence we can put any of them out on the park and that’s a healthy position to be in.
“I’m very excited about this group, I have been for a little while. I see players improving all the time, the hunger is there and I’m excited to getting this season going and seeing what this group can really do.”
Competition for places will hopefully push Kent’s individuals to greater heights, the accumulative sum equalling serious contenders across all formats in the months ahead.
Walker added: “Last year was a great year in some ways although it was a shorter year in that we were able to give everyone a bit of a go. You quickly realise that the young players are ready to go, they’ve had some experience, two or three of them did really well.
“We’ve got more depth, something we’ve fought hard to do at this club over the last three or four years. We’ve got a lovely split across the board, some experience at the top end, some guys in mid to late 20s coming to the peak of their careers and then the young whippersnappers who are snapping at the heels of everyone else.
“We’ve put a very good squad together, it’s exciting of course, and the next six months will really tell the whole story. The side doesn’t just pick itself, it’s important that people are pushing each other. In my experience, that produces the best cricket.
“You’ve got people fighting hard to get in the team and once you’re in the team you know you’ve got to work hard to stay there. That’s what you need, you want that healthy competition and I think we’ve got that in all areas.
“We know we’re going to lose a couple of players and hopefully we’re going to lose a few more to England and higher honours. That’s the second part of our job as a club, to make sure we’re producing the next generation of international cricketers, so we need to have that depth.
“This year is about taking the next step forward and looking to win something. I think we’ve got the squad to really challenge for that.”