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Kent coach Matt Walker stresses importance of strong start against Warwickshire

Matt Walker has pinpointed the early stages of batting sessions as a prime area for improvement on the back of Kent’s defeat to Somerset.

The loss of five wickets before lunch on the final day in the defeat at Taunton (Monday) inflicted defining damage after the visitors had bowled themselves towards a strong chance of victory.

Introducing a greater solidity at the top of the order now promises to be a leading focus when Kent continue their County Championship Division 1 campaign at Warwickshire, starting today (Thursday).

Ollie Robinson
Ollie Robinson

Read more: Relive Kent's 74-run defeat to Somerset

Head coach Walker said: “We’ve got to be better at negotiating that first session of batting, and dealing with that swinging ball in the first two hours.

“It’s impossible to be at 45-6, that was the moment of that game which killed us.

“Their lead of over 200 could and should have been less, if we bowl them out in the 100s it’s a different game. We then lost too many wickets too quickly.

“The work ethic is top class. It’s about understanding moments and coming with a focus to keep working hard, knowing what you want to work on.

“People focusing on the start of their innings is something we want to push and something we want players to identify. There’s always a focus on those first 30/35 balls and getting through that tricky period. It’s more of a mental side that we’ve got to try and gear up for Warwickshire.”

Kent are likely to name an unchanged side from the 13 that travelled to Somerset, with 20-year-old Ollie Robinson set to retain the wicketkeeping gloves ahead of Adam Rouse.

Walker added: “He (Rouse) is a really big part of the group, he is professional, we love having him around and his skills are fantastic. In this instance, Robinson forced his way into the team with good performances at the end of last year and in pre-season, both had looked good, but Ollie played nicely in South Africa and unfortunately Rousey was short of runs.

“He is still very much part of our plans this season, it’s difficult when you have three or four guys competing for one position but it’s also a good thing having to make these decisions on who to pick.”

Grant Stewart (back) has been working his way back to fitness by playing for the 2nd team in their combined clash with Sussex 2nds against Middlesex.

Walker explained: “Grant is getting there, it won’t be rushed. You want your players fit and available to you, but you have to be patient.”

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