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Kent spinner Adam Riley looking to make the most of his opportunities this summer

By Mark Stokes

Adam Riley is hoping he gets the chance to prove that slow bowlers still have a role to play in the modern game.

Off-spinner Riley made his Kent debut in May 2011 since when he has made a modest total of 58 first-class appearances.

Four of those came during Kent’s promotion-winning campaign last summer and he played a key role in the win against Derbyshire, taking 4-68 in the second innings on his way to match figures of 7-146 – his best display since 2015.

Adam Riley, right, talks to acting skipper Daniel Bell-Drummond during the game against Loughborough MCCU at Canterbury Picture: Ady Kerry
Adam Riley, right, talks to acting skipper Daniel Bell-Drummond during the game against Loughborough MCCU at Canterbury Picture: Ady Kerry

Sidcup-born Riley appreciates his playing prospects this season primarily depend on the type of wickets prepared but he hopes the fact that better quality surfaces are expected in Division 1 may help his cause.

He said: “The last couple of years the fixture scheduling with games right at the start of April hasn’t helped spinners across the country.

“Universally teams are less likely to pick a spinner early season. The new toss rule came in which was meant to help produce spin bowlers but actually sometimes it’s just easier not to take a spinner and bowl first.

“That’s just a tactical view really but hopefully getting back into Division 1, we’ll be playing on a few more Test match grounds where generally spinners play if you look at the stats. Flatter wickets mean teams might be more inclined to play a specialist spinner.”

Riley, now 27, admits he has had to be patient over the past few years but his hunger to play regular first team cricket remains undiminished. He believes the ball is coming out well after spending part of the winter working with former team-mate James Tredwell.

He said: “Being a specialist spin bowler you’ve got to have a thick skin at the best of times. The key for me over the past couple of years when I have been picked to play is to try to make the most of it and put the coaches and the captain in a position where I have to be picked for the next game.

“I think every player would be silly to suggest there’s not pressure every time you go over that white line, it’s about turning the pressure into a challenge.

"You want to embrace it and not go into your shell. I had a couple of those challenges last year at the end of the season especially the game at Derby. I felt like I held my own and helped the team to quite an important win in the grand scheme of things.

“I never rule myself out of any formats. I think Joe (Denly) bowling a few more overs over the past couple of years has given us options in white ball cricket to play around with the balance of the team.

“If and when I get the chance in white ball I’m going to embrace that challenge as well because in the past I’ve had success and I can’t see why I can’t come back in and do that again.

“I’m pleased with how it’s going at the moment, I’ve done a bit of work this winter with James Tredwell which has been excellent.

“When you’re team-mates for so long you don’t get as much time to work with each other from a technical point of view.

“Now he’s retired he was keen to get involved in the winter especially with Min Patel away with the England Under-19s. Just having a fellow spin bowler’s eyes and ears was very useful.”

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