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Kent Cricket head coach Matt Walker says players have been improved by FGS Plant Tour to Regional Super50 competition in Antigua

By Alex Hoad

Kent Cricket head coach Matt Walker hopes his squad returned from Antigua on Wednesday morning as better players.

The Spitfires squad touched down this morning (Wednesday) after a month in the Caribbean, taking part in the FGS Plant tour to take part in the Regional Super50 competition.

Despite losing five of their eight games and failing to qualify for the knockout stages of the 50-over competition, Walker says the experience has been invaluable in their preparations for the new season which is just five weeks away.

Kent head coach Matt Walker.
Kent head coach Matt Walker.

Walker said: “It has been great. Seeing players in action, playing competitively, giving us an idea of where they are at and where they need to be.

“In England, we don’t tend to play a competitive match until a friendly or University match a couple of weeks before the season.

“If there are any red flags, then there’s only a short window to put it right. (In Antigua), we’ve had the opportunity to see where everyone is at and address it.”

Walker said he faced a balancing act in the competition, adding: “Yes, we want to be competitive and start bringing in a winning culture in the group but balanced with that was a great opportunity to see everyone play.

“We could have played a full-strength side every game like the other teams but we chose not to do that. We chose to have a look at everybody and give everyone a chance.

“It would have been a worthless exercise to have gone home without seeing people in a match situation. It’s difficult to balance that at times and make sure we were at our best.”

Walker admitted Kent had ‘never really got to grips with the alien conditions’ in the West Indies, claiming: “It was difficult.

“The weather was part of it but it was mainly the surfaces and the style of play. It was a challenge. Players weren’t able to play their A Game out here. It was only the last couple of games that people got to grips with it.

“I hope they’ve learned a lot and they’ll take something back to England so if they do come across a similar situation, they might be able to deal with it better. Hopefully, they become better players for it.

“There’s lots of stuff we can work on and take forward. We might not need to use it in English conditions but hopefully everyone’s better for it.

“The point of the trip was to give these guys the opportunity to play against sides with international, experienced players, it was a great opportunity for our younger guys to put themselves up against some quality players.

“All of them I hope have got something out the trip in one way or another, improved their skills, seen a different style of cricket, seen good players play up close.

“I’d be disappointed if they hadn’t picked a lot up to add to their own games.”

Kent’s opening game of the Specsavers County Championship, Division 2 campaign is at home to Gloucestershire on Friday, April 7.

They face Leeds/Bradford MCCU in the First Class curtain-raiser from March 28.

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