Harry Finch is set to be Kent’s wicketkeeper-batsman for red-ball cricket this summer.
Finch, who signed a deal to stay at Kent until the end of next season in December, became first-choice behind the stumps in County Championship Division 1 last year after Sam Billings stepped down as Kent captain in four-day cricket.
With Billings now having penned a white-ball only deal with Kent, and fellow wicketkeeper Jordan Cox departing for rivals Essex, it’s a role 28-year-old Finch will keep.
Kent head coach Matt Walker explained: “From a personal point of view and as a bloke you want around the dressing room, Finchy absolutely fits the bill.
“He’s very passionate and very motivated to do well, has great values and is a real leader. He’s played really well and took his opportunity.
“It’s never easy second time around when you want to make a mark but he played so well last season for us.
“His keeping improved game-on-game and we have decided we don’t want to look for another keeper at this stage.
“In theory, we have lost three from our red-ball team in the last three or four years. We could have looked elsewhere - but we want to back Finchy and he deserves the opportunity to carry on that journey. I like having him on the team.
“He has everything you want as a player and a personality. It’s great he has been given an extension.
“I’m really excited to see what he does moving forward. He’s only going to get better.”
Kent still have Billings to help provide cover for Finch if he gets injured, while giving a young prospect a chance or using the loan market are other options.
Walker noted: “We will still have Sam, who will step in if needs be, if something bad happens to Finchy.
“We’re trying to develop all sorts of players in our Academy. There’s some good players coming through.
“We have always been blessed with keeper-batsmen coming through our system. It will be interesting to see who the next one is.
“We just decided, rather than signing another keeper-batsman, we have got Finchy and we have got Sam if needed.
“Also, the loan market is there for a reason. With having one out-and-out red-ball keeper on the staff, there’s always a keeper out there, desperately looking for an opportunity to play. We can always go with that route, so we’re covered.
“If it all goes pear-shaped, we definitely have options. But Finchy - provided he doesn’t have any sort of injury - deserves a long run at it.
“He’s got to keep earning it and keep playing well. But we see a really bright future for him.”
Cox, 23, followed Ollie Robinson in leaving Kent. Robinson signed for Durham in time for the start of last campaign and enjoyed an excellent summer.
But, despite effectively being left with one senior red-ball wicketkeeper-batsman, Walker has no regrets over the duo’s departures.
He said: “I don’t really see how it ever would have resolved itself.
“Players all want different things. When you have got three keepers on your staff - all brilliant cricketers - it’s impossible. Even with two keepers on the staff who are potentially as good as each other, how do you do it without losing a couple along the way?
“Even if it happened another way around - with Bilbo (Billings) going or Cox going earlier - it still presents the problem that people still want to keep in white-ball cricket or keep in red-ball cricket.
“Trying to give everyone exactly what they want? You just cannot do it.
“You have to make a decision somewhere. Robbo wanted to play T20 cricket and just wasn’t getting into our side.
“I’m not saying he wouldn’t have got into our side down the line - he possibly would have done - but he wanted to do it now and wanted to keep in red-ball cricket consistently. You have to set them free, almost.
“It’s a shame. They’re great guys, good players and you want to keep them all. But sometimes, you are spoiled with riches.
“People think it’s a great thing - sometimes it’s not - and Coxy had his reasons for leaving, which were fair enough. He wanted to try somewhere else and you cannot lose sleep over it.
“It’s frustrating, especially with players you grow and bring through the Academy, you want to see them go on and play. But you cannot do much else sometimes, other than shake them by the hand and wish them well.
“We wish them all the best and who knows? Their journey might mean they come back to us at some stage.”