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Kent Spitfires head coach Matt Walker thrilled to get home quarter-final in T20 Blast

Matt Walker heaped praise on his Kent players after securing a home quarter-final in the Vitality Blast competition.

Spitfires knew that victory over Essex on Friday would all but guarantee a home tie in the next round having already booked their place in the last eight with the win over Somerset on Thursday.

They beat Essex by five wickets at Chelmsford after chasing down the home side’s total of 201.

Matt Walker. Picture: Ady Kerry
Matt Walker. Picture: Ady Kerry

Head coach Walker said: “The objective at the start of this pool stage was qualify and get a home quarter-final. Credit to the boys, they’ve played brilliantly for the last few weeks.

“I think we’ve deserved everything we’ve got. We’ve played brilliant cricket. We’ve won games in lots of different ways but a lot of really brave and courageous cricket at this stage.

“Once you get on a winning roll, you start to believe and things start to happen to you. The pressure was off a bit knowing we qualified last night.

“I thought that run chase was masterful. We’ve chased well and we’ve defended well. You have to do that if you are going to progress in these competitions.

“To come here to Chelmsford, which is never easy, and chase down 200 is a great effort. I loved the way the boys played tonight. It was very brave and very positive from ball one.”

Daniel Bell-Drummond top scored in that run chase with 80 and has hit two half centuries in his last three matches of the tournament.

The 25-year-old has played in the second team and in the Kent Premier League in recent weeks to find some form with the bat.

Daniel Bell-Drummond. Picture: Chris Davey. (3664892)
Daniel Bell-Drummond. Picture: Chris Davey. (3664892)

Walker said: “I think he’s played well all competition actually. He’s probably not got the runs he would have liked. I know in the early part he looked in great nick and he kept getting himself out. It was small margins as he was caught on the ropes a couple of times.

“The constant development of him in this format is great. From where he was a few years ago to being one of the leading batsmen in the country is great.

“His white ball batting this year has been brilliant and that’s not always been easy to do when he’s struggled with the red ball. He’s managed to detach himself from that and do very well in this white ball format.

“He held that chase together. It wasn’t just great shots around the park, it was smart, intelligent and knew when to go.”

Kent have a quick turnaround for their next match, which is at Leicestershire in the Specsavers County Championship, Division 2.

Walker added: “We will try and get our heads down at some stage tonight. A bit of practice tomorrow morning with some red ball stuff and we go again on Sunday.

“It’s never easy to get yourself properly prepared for but we are going to have to hopefully react a bit better than we did last time.

“The good sides are the busiest sides and that’s us at the moment. We will try and rest up well and gear ourselves up for Sunday morning.”

Kent will face Lancashire in the quarter-final of the T20 Blast on Thursday at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence.

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