Published: 06:00, 22 June 2021
Kent captain Daniel Bell-Drummond has been singing the praises of Jack Leaning after a successful start to their T20 Blast campaign this summer.
Leaning has been an integral part of the Kent team, impressing with bat and ball as well as his excellent fielding in the deep.
The 27-year-old joined Kent last summer and made his best first-class score of 220 not out in the Bob Willis Trophy against Sussex last August - six years after his highest Yorkshire score of 123.
Leaning tops the Spitfires’ T20 averages this summer with 213 runs at 53.25 – including 12 sixes. Add in four wickets and eight catches, not to mention the amount of runs saved in the deep, and he has already become an integral part of the side.
“Jack has been brilliant,” enthused Bell-Drummond. “I knew him from England under-15s and under-19s so when I heard Kent were signing him I was really happy as I knew we had a great player on board.
“He is really enjoying his cricket, he is a top bloke and has fitted in really well. He is one of the senior players in the team and the guys really respect him.
“His cricket is going from strength to strength. Everyone knew he had it him in, especially him, but at a club at Yorkshire when Test players come in and out he didn’t get a settled spot.
“Here he has been outstanding. His bowling has been excellent too, I wouldn’t say he is under rated but he has shown whenever he gets the ball he is a massive threat.”
Leaning took a T20 career-best 3-15 in Kent’s record-breaking T20 win over Essex Eagles at Canterbury on Sunday, their fifth success in six matches.
Spitfires' total of 236-3 beat their previous bests of 231-7 against Surrey in 2015 and 231-5 against Somerset in 2018.
Leaning, not surprisingly, played a key role with 42 not out from just 17 balls, while Bell-Drummond himself contributed 88 from 44 balls.
“It doesn’t surprise me that it was a record as everything went as planned and it was tough to bowl with the wet ball,” said Bell-Drummond.
“We’re happy with that and hopefully we can break some more records!
“That’s the great thing about T20, after a while there’s only one thing you can do and that’s score as quickly as possible.
“Batting first and putting runs on the board has been massive. We’d back ourselves if we have to chase but we’ve been put in most times and it has worked to our favour.
“The bowlers were always going to get better, they are relishing their roles and growing in confidence. They’ve all got their own strengths – Matt Milnes is getting better with his yorkers, Grant Stewart with his change-ups and Fred Klaassen is leading the attack and showing his class.”
Much has been made about Bell-Drummond leading the side with Sam Billings absent on England duty. Billings returned for two T20 matches last week but Bell-Drummond retained the captaincy.
The pair are working closely together, however, and Bell-Drummond admitted that the coaching staff also play a significant role.
“I’ve really enjoyed captaining but a lot of it has come from the staff and regular contact with Sam Billings,” said Bell-Drummond.
“He was a great help when he came back for two games. I’m very grateful to captain (the side) but it’s a team effort.
“I can turn to anyone in the field from seven or eight bowlers who can bowl four overs on any day.
“We’ve got a lot of depth, we’ve got so many options with bat and ball.”
Kent are back in T20 action in Bristol against Gloucestershire on Tuesday evening.