Kent head coach Matt Walker is tipping runaway County Championship Division 2 winners Durham to be a force to be reckoned with next year.
Durham roared to the Division 2 crown and lost only once in 14 competitive four-day matches in 2023, finishing 66 points ahead of second-placed Worcestershire.
“Certainly in Durham’s case, they’re going to be a very strong side,” predicted Walker, whose Kent squad have started preparing for another campaign in the top flight after they narrowly avoided Division 1 relegation.
“I think they are going to be challenging. It’s difficult to know because they have romped home in Division 2 but they’ll be a very strong side.
“Then there will still be Surrey, Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire, Lancashire, Essex and all these sides. They’re all going to be better.”
Among those to help Durham to title glory was Ollie Robinson, who was in his first full summer with them after he left Kent at the end of the 2022 campaign. The 24-year-old was their Rising Star-of-the-Year.
Robinson finished with three centuries in red-ball cricket with a high score of 167 not out while showcasing his white-ball prowess and wicketkeeping skills, scoring four half-centuries in the T20 Blast. But he will miss out on a Canterbury 2024 return in red-ball cricket as Durham are one of the County Championship clubs Kent will only face once – at Chester-le-Street from Thursday, September 26.
England international Matt Parkinson also played for Durham, on loan from Lancashire. But the leg-spinner is now set to link-up with Kent on a permanent basis after a loan stint with Spitfires in the One-Day Cup.
Walker said: “He’ll make a big difference. He has been brilliant for Durham this year.
“He has played Championship cricket and made a real impact in our 50-over competition.
“I think he really settled in quickly and felt like he was at home. When you get that calibre of cricketer, it gives you a real boost in all forms.
“He’s such a talented multi-format cricketer. That’s a real plus.
“It’ll be a similar squad [next year], although a few will depart and we’ll try and get a few more bodies in.”