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Kent signing Hamidullah Qadri backed to make first-team impact by head coach Matt Walker

ByCameron Hogwood

Kent head coach Matt Walker insists he won’t shy away from throwing Hamidullah Qadri straight into the first-team set-up in 2020.

The Afghanistan-born off spinner signed for the club in September having come through the youth ranks at Derbyshire.

Qadri, who turns 19 on December 5, made his first-class debut at the age of 16 for Derby, during which he claimed career-best figures of 5-60 in his second innings.

Kent head coach Matt Walker. Picture: Ady Kerry
Kent head coach Matt Walker. Picture: Ady Kerry

Walker said: “We’re signing what we think is a first-team ready bowler at this stage that can grow within this young bowling attack and fit in seamlessly.

“He’s a really nice lad who has got all the attributes that we look for at this club.

“We’ve gone that way and it’s great again to pick one of the best young players around and have him in our squad.

“It just keeps raising the standard. We could have gone with experience but we’ve actually gone with somebody we believe can go on to become a very fine off-spin bowler.

“He’s already a good bowler and we’ll have no hesitation in playing him straight away.

“His opportunity diminished at Derby, they played one spinner for much of the season in (Matt) Critchley who can bat.

“For us it’s great to get him here and he’ll have much more opportunity to play I suspect.

“I think he fits into a long list of young players that will move forward together.”

Walker admits the club had considered retaining Ollie Rayner, who took 10 first-class wickets in eight games while on loan from Middlesex last season.

Kent instead put their faith in Qadri in the hope of constructing a bowling unit capable of staying together for the foreseeable future.

“He’s probably one of the best young spinners in the country,” added Walker.

“Obviously we had Ollie Rayner on loan, he’s at a very different end of his career, he’s experienced and has a lot of first-class wickets under his belt, he did a brilliant job for us coming in and filling quite a wide gap at that stage.

“We certainly had thoughts around keeping Ollie with us.

“I think the way we’re moving as a group with a young attack, the upside with Hammi is huge.

“He’s got great potential, I think he’s a match winner, I think he will bring an excitement around our spin department.”

Marcus O'Riordan in bowling action during Kent's T20 game with Surrey Picture: Ady Kerry
Marcus O'Riordan in bowling action during Kent's T20 game with Surrey Picture: Ady Kerry

Qadri joins a spin attack that includes the likes of Imran Qayyum and Marcus O’Riordan, the latter of whom signed his first professional deal at the club back in August.

The trio have combined with Kent's seam options in leaving Walker with welcomed depth across the squad.

He continued: “You're always looking to improve but I'm looking at the squad now and actually for the first time in a long time we've got competition for places across the board.

“We had three spinners at the start of the year, maybe that's a little bit excessive.

“Marcus to me is an all-rounder, I think his batting is as strong as his bowling so that's almost a different role there, and Imran is a left-arm spinner so he gives you a different dimension and then Hammi is a young off-spinner who is very attacking in red ball cricket.

“We've got a nice balance there and then alongside that we've got a healthy charge of young batters who give us great depth and then the seam bowl department with Stevo obviously staying, we've got Ivan Thomas coming back, Grant Stewart hopefully fitter than he was this year and Tim Groeneveld with experience to come in as well.

“We're serious about winning something next year.

“To do that we need that competition and to be able to feel there is a bit of upward pressure, that should be a good thing.

“Hopefully there is a squad there that for the next 10 years the core of it will stay together and become very successful.”

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