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Kent head coach Matt Walkers provides injury update ahead of Yorkshire clash

ByCameron Hogwood

A mental challenge beckons for Kent as they strive to reconfigure their minds to red ball cricket again, admits head coach Matt Walker.

Having played eight Royal London One-Day Cup games and a tour match against Pakistan, Kent are due to resume their County Championship season against Yorkshire on Tuesday.

They enter the four-dayer looking for their second Division 1 win of the campaign after beating Warwickshire by eight wickets in April.

Kent head coach Matt Walker. Picture: Ady Kerry
Kent head coach Matt Walker. Picture: Ady Kerry

Walker said: "It's about coming back into that discipline and more focus around defence. It goes from people looking to score all the time to reining it in a bit.

"When you're playing well it shouldn't matter too much, the confidence you get in white ball cricket should be taken into the red ball format. If you've scored runs you've scored runs, it's more mental than technical.

"A lot of players are in a good place. It should be a case of refocusing the mind and not looking too much into the switch of format, but it can be challenging."

Kent suffered another injury fright in Tuesday's defeat to Middlesex when wicketkeeper Adam Rouse was forced to hand the gloves over to Ollie Robinson due to a hand injury.

Walker explained: "He dislocated his finger, it popped in and out. He went to hospital and had no further damage so was able to come back and bat.

"I don't think there will be any extended damage, it's obviously sore but it was a straight forward in and out dislocation. He's a tough lad."

Kent are waiting on the return of seamer Darren Stevens as he continues to nurse a side strain.

"He's getting there, it's a slow process that is probably going on for a little longer than we'd have hoped," admitted Walker.

"It's one of those awkward ones in the side, which is quite a big deal for seam bowlers. It's not a major strain but something's just not quite feeling right there for Darren and he's conscious of not being at 100%.

"When he raises that concern you know there's something not quite right, hopefully he'll be fit for Yorkshire.

"We're getting there, we've got a couple of lads coming back now. It's not as bleak as it once looked.

"Grant Stewart is not a million miles away, Calum Haggett is dealing with his issue, Ivan Thomas is working hard to get back, Mitch Claydon is back fit and played Tuesday."

Darren Stevens. Picture: Ady Kerry
Darren Stevens. Picture: Ady Kerry

Captain Sam Billings finds himself at the beginning of his recovery period after undergoing surgery on the dislocated shoulder set to see him sidelined for up to five months.

Walker added: "He popped in at the game against Essex which was great. His operation went really well and he's really upbeat.

"He'll do everything he can to get back sooner than anybody has from a shoulder dislocation, he'll have to be patient as well.

"When it's quite serious you have a time frame and you hope it's a bit quicker than usual, sometimes you have to be a bit more realistic.

"We've been without him before, we'll just have to adapt. We know he'd have probably been involved with England anyway."

In positive news for Kent they unveiled South African Test bowling all-rounder Wiaan Mulder as their overseas replacement for Matt Renshaw in seven county championship games later in the season.

"It's exciting," said Walker. "What I have seen and heard is very positive, he looks like an exciting cricketer. He's very highly rated, young, energetic, wants to further his development. That combination of talent and winning mentality is a good sign and fits the bill of what we want.

"It became fate really when Sam was injured, Wiaan's name cropped up. We'll lose Matt Renshaw and then obviously Billings and Denly and the bowling unit is a little thin on the ground as well so he gives us a real balance to the team."

Read more: Kent sign South African Wiaan Mulder as new overseas player

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