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Kent batsman Joe Denly on their County Championship match against Surrey at Beckenham, the start of their T20 Blast title defence and competition for places at the top of the order


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Joe Denly says Kent’s players already have one eye on preparations for their T20 Blast title defence - even though their focus remains firmly on kick-starting their County Championship campaign.

Kent continue their search for a first County Championship Division 1 win this season when they play early frontrunners Surrey at Beckenham from tomorrow before visiting Northamptonshire next week.

Kent's Joe Denly batting against the Sri Lanka Development side at The Spitfire Ground. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Kent's Joe Denly batting against the Sri Lanka Development side at The Spitfire Ground. Picture: Barry Goodwin

But with Matt Walker’s squad due to start their T20 campaign at the end of the month, attention is slowly beginning to turn towards the shorter format of the game.

“I think [we have] one eye on the T20s, just trying to get the odd white-ball practice in here and there,” said Denly, who has returned from a hamstring injury he sustained against Essex in the season opener.

“But we have got to start our red-ball season going, that's for sure.

“We haven’t won a game yet and we will be looking to put that right against Surrey at Beckenham.”

While Kent’s bowlers have struggled, conceding at least 500 in the first innings of every one of their first five fixtures this summer, their batsmen have been in decent form.

Three different players have already racked up tons, with new signing Ben Compton making a big impact.

It means there is plenty of competition for places at the top of the order but 36-year-old Denly commented: “I think that’s what you want, isn’t it?

"All the batters seem to be striking the ball really well and there’s quite a few hundreds within the dressing room.

“Look, that competition is a good headache to have.”

Compton, cousin of former England opener Nick and grandson of the great Denis Compton, has racked up three centuries and two half-centuries in the County Championship.

Joe Denly bowling. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Joe Denly bowling. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Denly, who scored a second-innings 41 not out against a Sri Lanka Development XI to back up his first-innings 35, stated: “You can always learn, absolutely. It doesn’t matter if you are just starting out in your career or have played a few games, like myself, you can always learn from each other.

“Ben has been fantastic at the start of the season. Scoring hundreds consistently is something we always talk about.

“I think all the lads can learn from his discipline and his maturity in constructing an innings.”

It may not be just with the bat spinner Denly is required, though, with slow bowlers having enjoyed more success than the pacemen so far.

When asked if he expected to bowl as well as bat, Denly replied: “Yeah hopefully although, in saying that, we have got some very good spin bowlers.

Joe Denly has been impressed with the start to the season Kent opener Ben Compton has had. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Joe Denly has been impressed with the start to the season Kent opener Ben Compton has had. Picture: Barry Goodwin

“So I might not be required, but the wickets seem to be taking a bit of turn so, hopefully, I can get a few overs as well.”

The match against the Sri Lankan side at The Spitfire Ground saw veteran all-rounder Darren Stevens (168) and South African overseas player George Linde (107) come close to a record fifth-wicket partnership as they put on a 264-run stand on the opening day of the first-class game on Friday.

Young wicketkeeper Billy Mead racked up 106 not out, too, before the bowlers were left to toil away.

Other fringe players given an opportunity to impress for Kent were fellow centurion Marcus O'Riordan, Harry Podmore, Jas Singh and Max Luckett.

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