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Kent head coach Matt Walker opens up on T20 exit after crushing defeat at Essex

Frustration, failure, regret? It appeared to be all of the above for head coach Matt Walker after Kent threw away a commanding position in the T20 Blast South group.

The Spitfires crashed out of the competition on Friday night as they went down by 10 runs at Essex having seen six wickets fall in the final three overs of their chase.

He said: “The ultimate feeling is immense disappointment, it’s a sense of failure.

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

“We had high hopes for this competition at the start about doing something pretty special.

“We felt we had a squad that could deliver success, obviously halfway through we were in a very good place having started so well. Unfortunately we weren’t able to deliver the final step over the line to get to the quarter-finals.

“We’re totally gutted, that’s the over-riding feeling for everybody. We had an opportunity, we didn’t take it and it’s very hard to accept.

“We all look at ourselves and see it as a disappointment and a real failure. We have to learn our lessons, we’ll sit down now and reflect on why we didn’t get through.

“There’s never one reason, there are lots of reasons – not excuses – as to why we didn’t succeed.

“We’re looking at them all and trying to make sure they don’t happen again. There’s a lot of very hurt people around the club at the moment.”

As his skipper Sam Billings alluded to post match, Walker underlined defeats from winning positions against Surrey and Gloucestershire as defining moments.

He added: “We had those games, they were games to win. We probably batted as well as we’ve batted all competition in those three games, but without getting across the line and that’s what counts.

“You can play well for 16-17 overs, have two bad overs and have the game disappear so quickly, and that’s what happened in all those games.

“Friday wasn’t the one that hurt the most, although it was the concluding factor in our disappointment. The Surrey game here was the one that really hurt us.

“A game we were flying in and that had been won really.

“We had those games in the palms of our hands and that’s what hurts the most. In all three of those run chases there were periods where we just slipped up and we paid the price heavily.

“I can’t fault the commitment of the players, they all care desperately and are all devastated.

“Any accusations thrown about by anybody that it didn’t matter or that there was a lack of care are completely off the mark, everybody desperately wanted to succeed in this competition.

“We feel we’ve let ourselves down, we feel we’ve let the crowd down, we feel we’ve let everybody down.”

Adam Milne helps Kent to victory over Somerset by dismissing Max Waller. Picture: Ady Kerry
Adam Milne helps Kent to victory over Somerset by dismissing Max Waller. Picture: Ady Kerry

Changes in personnel evidently scuppered Kent’s momentum, with the club having been unable to recruit another bowler following Adam Milne’s injury and the loss of Mohammad Nabi.

Walker explained: “I think at the start of the competition we had a squad we believed in and that we could win with.

“Things did change coming into the back end, you lose Adam Milne, you lose Mohammad Nabi, Grant Stewart gets injured, Imran Qayyum is injured for a game or two.

“You lose some key players, obviously you don’t have Sam Billings through most of the competition, Heino (Kuhn) missed a couple of games and it goes on. That’s not an excuse, that’s a reason.

“When you lose two high class players in Nabi, with his batting and his overs as well, and Milne, with his expertise with the ball, the balance of the team shifted dramatically.

“All of a sudden you’re slightly less strong in the bowling department and you’re asking people to step up and do a role they maybe haven’t done before, obviously with Blakey having to bowl and Deebz (Daniel Bell-Drummond) bowling a bit more than he usually would do.

“As it turned out we could not get our hands on a bowler.

“We brought in Faf (du Plessis) who is a world class player, we thought we’d go that route because we didn’t really have any other options.”

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