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Kent head coach Matt Walker holds clear-the-air meeting with squad in bid to restore confidence after meek defence of T20 Blast title


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Head coach Matt Walker wants Kent’s players to press the reset button on their season.

Spitfires’ dismal attempt at retaining their T20 Blast trophy ended after back-to-back defeats last weekend against Hampshire and Middlesex.

Kent head coach Matt Walker has called on his players to play more positive cricket. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Kent head coach Matt Walker has called on his players to play more positive cricket. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Defeat at Lord’s on Sunday afternoon led to a lengthy post-match discussion in the dressing room.

“We’ve had a long chat in the dressing room, some pretty honest chat in there, and we’ve put all the baggage behind us - which there has been plenty of this season,” revealed Walker.

“Some people haven’t had the seasons they’d have liked.

“We start again from now and give everything we can for the rest of the season, whatever format it is, and hopefully it doesn’t eke into any other competition.

“There’s still a lot to play for, some really important games of cricket coming up, and a new competition to look forward to in the Royal London Cup. Hopefully we can get something out of this season.”

The regular theme of Kent underperforming with bat and ball in T20 action in the past month sees them rooted to the foot of the South Group table.

They’ve lost nine of their 11 matches after Tuesday's five-run defeat to Gloucestershire and Walker is hoping a clear-the-air meeting, which saw players as well as management have their say, will draw a line in the sand.

“You hope it comes a bit more from the players as well,” said Walker of their lengthy inquest.

“The coaches drove it, along with the captain. There was some good discussion after the game, an honest discussion.

“Sometimes it’s hard to find the words when you’re losing or you feel like you’re saying the same thing over and over again.

“I think that’s always a frustration as a coach or a captain, it’s the same things you’re seeing. How do you readdress it? How do you word it differently?

“You want the players to also be part of that conversation and to speak freely, and there was a bit of that, which is good.

"They are the ones out in the middle driving it, you can say as much as you want in the dressing room.

“When the chips are down, who is going to stick their hand up and really drag us through from a losing situation into a winning one? We’re probably not seeing it and that comes down to our skills not being good enough.

“Confidence is also shot at the moment but we’ve got to put that to one side and be braver, more positive and courageous and not play too safe. That’s what happens when you’re not performing, people play safe.

“We’ve had a lot of these discussions this year when you’re not doing so well.”

Walker hopes it is hurting his players as much as he feels the pain as a former player and now proud coach of the county. He wants them to show their character in the weeks ahead.

“It hurts us all when you lose any game of cricket for the county,” said Walker.

“You don’t want people sulking about it or smashing the dressing room up or dragging it into the next game.

“I like to think everyone in that dressing room cares for this county and wants to be better than they are.

“All I ever ask of this team is that when you walk across the line, all that matters for that day, those four days, or three hours in a T20 game, is that you put your heart and soul into the game of cricket.

“Are we seeing it? Well, there’s some huff and puff. We’re not executing our skills well enough and in those tough situations we shrink a bit.

"That comes down to confidence. Last year we found ourselves in tough situations but because you’re winning there’s a belief that drags you through.

“People have got to step up and show some real character, whatever the format.

“We’ve got to do it for ourselves and your mate next to you in the dressing room, and for the county, and for the people that pay our wages and come and watch.

“We are paid to try and win games of cricket for Kent and we haven’t done it enough.

“We have a responsibility to everybody, the fans, ourselves and Kent in general. We want to see people throwing it all out there every time they walk across the white line.

“Have we done that enough? Players have got to look in the mirror and if they say they have then that’s fine. If they look and question whether they’ve really given their all then that’s not what we expect from this county.

“There’s a big responsibility. We’re not just going to drift through these [remaining T20] games, we’ve got to stick our chests out, get ourselves together and put on a show.”

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