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Kent's Alex Blake says below-par fielding against Hampshire in Royal London One-Day Cup is cause for concern

Alex Blake believes Kent need to improve their fielding during the Royal London One-Day Cup campaign.

There was a noticeable difference between the Spitfires and visitors Hampshire in the field during Sunday's clash at Beckenham

Alex Blake says Kent need to do better in the field Picture: Keith Gillard
Alex Blake says Kent need to do better in the field Picture: Keith Gillard

And Blake, who has captained the side in the absence of the injured Joe Denly, revealed it was the subject of dressing-room discussion immediately after Kent's fate was sealed in a 163-run defeat.

"There’s a lot of room for improvement on the fielding," said Blake. "I can’t really put a finger on it.

"We spoke about trying to anticipate a bit better and read the game situation.

"At the start they seemed to keep getting singles at will, it’s about squeezing that initial phase, if you’re on the boundary try and save twos.

"It’s more an anticipation thing for me, it’s not a skill element, it’s about reading the game better and being proactive rather than reactive.

"You can train as much as you want, do as many catches or ground fielding (drills) as you want but you’ve got to read the game better.

"They did it really well, Hampshire squeezed and didn’t give us anything in that ring and you do feel it as a batter. As a fielding unit we need to improve there to back up the bowlers.

"It’s hard enough on a good deck at Beckenham when you haven’t got the fielders behind you."

Kent were due to practice under the lights at Canterbury on Wednesday night ahead of Thursday's day-night clash with Essex at Chelmsford.

Despite two defeats in their first three One-Day Cup games, Blake believes there's still plenty to play for.

"There’s still five more games to go and we’re still feeling good as a side," he said.

"We want to win every game but particularly the ones against Essex and Surrey, who are on our doorstep.

"We’ll look forward to Essex. They should get a good crowd in as a day-night match. We’ve played T20s there under lights so we know what it’s like. They look like they’ve got a reasonable side [for this competition] as well so it will be a good occasion."

Kent look set to welcome back Denly as captain after a back injury while Grant Stewart only featured as a batsman against Hampshire due to an Achilles problem is out of the Essex game alongside fellow all-rounders Darren Stevens and George Linde.

Blake's enjoyed the challenges of captaincy but is happy to hand over the reins to Denly.

"I’ve enjoyed it," said Blake. "It’s tough work when the wicket is flat and you can’t find wickets, trying to chop and change bowlers has been quite tricky and you’re always trying to think ahead of yourself, about what your death options are and when the spinner needs to bowl.

"Grant’s struggling with an injury so he’s trying to manage that, we needed him to play as a batter as Joe was out.

"Joe’s been managing a back injury which he’s had for quite a while now so he knows how to manage it. He was close on Sunday but thinks he’ll be back on Thursday."

Despite the inconsistent form, Blake believes there is enough in Kent's side for them to propser.

"We know we’ve got a good side, we’ve had a couple of injuries but hopefully Joe is back next game which will strengthen our batting," added Blake.

"We’re confident and we’ll take each game as it comes.

"We’ve got two good overseas players, Navdeep Saini bowls good pace which is a good weapon to bring back for a sharp burst.

"George Linde's an experienced left-arm spinner and players are stepping up as well. Ollie Robinson has done well so far and Hami Qadri has bowled well. Bring Joe back in and we look reasonably strong."

Kent host Northamptonshire at Canterbury on Sunday (11am) and then travel to Derbyshire on Wednesday (11am).

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