Published: 13:30, 24 June 2021
Darren Stevens has signed a one-year contract extension with Kent.
The 45-year-old all-rounder's stunning start to the 2021 season has prompted Kent to move earlier than normal to offer him new terms.
And fans' favourite Stevens, who has forced his way back into the club's T20 team, has put pen to paper to remain at Canterbury into 2022.
“I’m thrilled to commit to another season with Kent and continuing my really good form," said Stevens.
“I’ve worked hard to continue to earn my place in the Kent playing XI across all formats this year, and I’m feeling fit and strong to continue to make more contributions as a Kent player.
“There’s a great group of lads here and we’re all focused on delivering good performances and winning more games of cricket for Kent.”
Stevens tops Kent's batting averages in the County Championship this summer.
He has scored 423 runs at an average of 47, including two hundreds and 19 sixes. His most memorable innings this summer, of course, was his stunning 190 off just 149 balls against Glamorgan at Canterbury last month.
Stevens dominated a stand of 165 with Miguel Cummins for the ninth wicket, scoring 160 runs. He became the oldest player to score a Championship ton since Chris Balderstone for Leicestershire in 1986.
Only the arrival of on-loan Matt Quinn has kept Stevens off the top of Kent's four-day bowling averages as well.
Stevens has taken 26 wickets in eight Championship games at an average of 19.65 with two five-fers, including best figures of 5-53.
Having joined Kent in 2005, he was axed from the club's T20 Blast side four years ago but has forced his way back in this summer, taking seven wickets to date at an average of just over 26 and an economy rate of less than nine runs per over.
Stevens was set to leave the club two years ago after being told there was no new contract offer on the table but his stunning form prompted a U-turn amid a growing call among supporters for Kent to reverse their decision.
Kent director of cricket Paul Downton said: “Darren continues to be an invaluable member of the Kent team and I’m delighted that he will be with us for another season in 2022.
“Darren’s skills are very underrated. Over the last couple of seasons, the pitches at Canterbury have regularly achieved the top mark of ‘Very Good’, which has seen Darren become even more effective as a bowler. He has also worked really hard on his batting to trust his defence again. The results have been spectacular.
“The fact that he has worked his way back into our Vitality Blast team for the first time in four years is a huge testament to his hunger to keep improving and his desire to keep on playing the game he loves.
“Stevo has rightly earned his hero status amongst not only Kent members and supporters, but fans of cricket in general, and I’m sure this news will be greeted with the congratulations it deserves.”