Published: 05:00, 12 May 2022
| Updated: 10:05, 12 May 2022
Daniel Bell-Drummond is now taking elements of his successful T20 game into the County Championship, says Kent head coach Matt Walker.
The 28-year-old backed up his century in defeat to Hampshire with a first-innings 109 in Kent’s drawn County Championship Division 1 fixture against Yorkshire.
Bell-Drummond will be aiming to get a third County Championship ton in as many matches against Surrey at Beckenham from today.
It is top against bottom as Walker’s side are still looking for their first competitive win of the season while Surrey thrashed Northamptonshire inside three days last week.
Batsman Joe Denly returns from a hamstring injury to make Kent’s 13-man squad while all-rounder Grant Stewart (hamstring) is out injured.
Bell-Drummond, who will captain Kent at the start of their T20 Blast defence with Sam Billings at the IPL, has enjoyed great recent success in white-ball cricket but has finally transferred that form into the red-ball game.
Walker said: “He’s played really nicely.
"Dan has struggled a little bit by his own high standards in the last few years to find that consistency in red-ball cricket.
“He’s had an extremely successful period in T20 cricket but we know that he’s been a very good Championship cricketer and still has plenty to offer. Moving away from the very top of the order, I think that’s helped.
“He’s worked very hard at his game to wrestle himself into this team, and he’s got his rewards. I thought he played brilliantly against Hampshire and to back it up was really good to see.
“The consistency is starting to come and he’s starting to find a way to play that’s going to help him score more runs. He is taking the elements that make him click in T20 cricket into his Championship cricket.
“It’s not a case of ‘Just play like you do in T20 cricket’ - that would never work - but it’s about taking the positive bits which help him score and transferring that into his Championship game.
“Hopefully this becomes a really big season for him in Championship cricket.”
Another player whose game is primarily based around the shorter form of cricket, white-ball specialist Alex Blake, has also started his 2022 summer in good form.
He has two double hundreds in the 2nds this season, blasting 239 in a draw with Essex at Beckenham, having previously hit 208 at Sussex.
Walker didn’t totally rule out a first-team return to four-day cricket for the 33-year-old, but said no such plans have been discussed yet.
“He has scored two double hundreds which is amazing,” said Walker. “We will see where it takes Alex.
"The consistency is starting to come..."
“He is, obviously, on a white-ball contract but things can change and your career can take funny twists and turns.
“The reason Alex went on a white-ball contract initially was because he found himself in a red-ball rut, had found red-ball cricket was becoming a grind and he had been around second-team cricket for a number of years around four-day cricket so he wasn’t enjoying it.
“Then he struggled to find any sort of form when those first-team opportunities did come.
“I think what you’re seeing is a player with no pressure on him. There’s no expectation on him around red-ball cricket.
“The idea for him to play a full part in pre-season, hitting red balls and being part of the whole group, I think was a really smart one.
“He’s just playing cricket - it doesn’t matter what colour ball it is - he’s just playing cricket and working on the fundamental part of his game.
“As we move towards T20 cricket, he can keep around the boys, keep helping out on the coaching side of it, captaining and just playing a purer form of the game. We’ve seen some great results.
“Hopefully it’s him prepping to force himself into the T20 side, which he struggled to do last year.
“But of course, when he’s scoring that many runs, it does make it quite interesting when you see somebody that’s in prime form, scoring so heavily.
“At the moment, it’s not something we are going to move forward with. But if Blakey keeps scoring runs, then maybe his career could start to go full circle and he could actually find the appetite for red-ball cricket again.
“It’s just great to see him playing and enjoying his cricket.”
Both Blake and Bell-Drummond didn’t play in the drawn match against a Sri Lanka Development XI when nearly 1,500 runs were scored across four days.