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Kent head coach Matt Walker praises Jaydn Denly after match-saving innings on first-class debut against Essex

Kent head coach Matt Walker led the praise for teenage debutant Jaydn Denly after their County Championship draw at Essex on Monday.

Coming in on the back of a duck in the first innings, and with his team on the brink of defeat at 65-5, Denly put on a half-century partnership with uncle Joe.

Jaydn Denly - scored 41 not out on his debut to help Kent to a draw against Essex. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Jaydn Denly - scored 41 not out on his debut to help Kent to a draw against Essex. Picture: Barry Goodwin

He went onto bat for nearly two hours, guiding Kent to relatively safe waters with a defiant 41 not out from 128 balls.

“Someone said it in the dressing room, that would have been a fantastic innings in your 100th game, let alone your first,” enthused Walker.

“I kept hearing a lot about Jaydn from a number of people, who have seen him and worked with him, that one of his great attributes is his temperament, not much rattles him.

“He’s pretty unfazed by most things and is pretty laid back. He dealt with one of the best attacks in the country in a way that seemed like he had been around for a long time.

“Bearing in mind he got nought in the first innings. I’m sure the butterflies would have been swirling around in his stomach in that situation but you wouldn’t have known it.

“He would have learnt an absolute fortune in that two hours of batting and that’s the education you get when you play in the first team. You can’t get it anywhere else.

“We’re really proud of him, to see a young Academy kid come off the blocks in his first season as a pro. The plan wasn’t really for him to be playing first-team cricket this year, it was an opportunity for him to grow and learn his game in the second team but, as can happen, opportunities arise.

“He’s got an old head on young shoulders and there was a lot of his uncle in that innings, (playing) under pressure. The wealth of learning he would have got from that innings will give him a lot of confidence.”

While Kent might have come up short in some areas of their game – the bowling again lacked penetration and there were some missed chances in the field – there could be no questions over the battling qualities of Walker’s troops.

They dug deep when they needed to and it’s been a good trait to have.

“Over the course of the game, we haven’t been at our best with our skill levels but what was really pleasing was the fight and desire,” admitted Walker.

“It came in a couple of areas with Daniel Bell-Drummond and Ben Compton with that (first-innings) partnership, they dug deep and got through a sticky patch early on to put on that big total.

“Then at the back end, it was not a great situation at tea with 32 overs to survive and five wickets in the hutch.

“It was going to take something special from the lower order to get us out of a hole. We’ve asked the lower order to contribute this season, it’s a big challenge where we haven’t necessarily been at our best over the last couple of seasons.

“But it was real guts, character and skill from Nathan Gilchrist and Jaydn Denly. We may not be quite at our best at the moment but we’re showing some guts and fight.”

Walker admitted there was a growing sense of calm in the away dressing room in the final hour, mainly thanks to two unlikely heroes in Gilchrist and Denly.

“They are always tense situations,” noted Walker. “Everyone is a bit on edge but we’ve shown some real calmness in the dressing room in the last couple of games.

“It’s something that we’re trying to do, create an environment where there is a level to it. The lads who were waiting to bat were up and down a bit, but actually everyone was pretty calm and the way Gily and Jaydn played out there did create a bit of calmness in the dressing room.

“You always feel you’re one wicket away from it turning on its head, but they did the job and took that responsibility on really well and decided to be the two at the end.”

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