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Wisden award for Kent's Key

KEY: "We have enjoyed an unbelievable time in terms of Test cricket and this just caps it off"
KEY: "We have enjoyed an unbelievable time in terms of Test cricket and this just caps it off"

KENT'S England batsman Robert Key is to be honoured as one of Wisden’s five cricketers of the year at an awards dinner in London tonight.

The 25-year-old England player from Beckenham enjoyed a stunning season domestically topping the national batting averages with 1,896 runs at an average of 79, while scoring nine centuries in only 16 matches.

The first batsman to 1,000 first-class runs by June 2, his 2004 run spree included a maiden Test century of 221 against the West Indies at Lord’s in a year when he took his Test caps tally to 15.

Thrilled by his selection amongst cricket’s elite, Key said: “You normally have an inkling of things like this because there are snippets in the press, but this came completely out of the blue and as a great surprise.

“When I think of all the players in the international game performing to the highest level, week in, week out, for me to win one of these five awards is quite something.”

Key becomes the first Kent-raised player to win the award since Richard Ellison in 1986 and becomes the 26th Kent player to be named since the county had its first winner in 1892.

He also joins an illustrious list of Kent’s Wisden winners that includes Doug Wright, Les Ames, Colin Cowdrey, Mike Denness, Godfrey Evans, Tich Freeman, Alan Knott, Derek Underwood, Frank Woolley and Bob Woolmer.

Key added: “Wisden told me about a while ago but it still hasn’t quite sunk in.

“It’s not an award you can aim for but I guess it confirms that I did have a decent year for Kent and is recognition of my double hundred in the Lord’s Test.

“That said I would never dare mention myself in the same breath as some of the other previous Kent winners because in terms of Test cricket I’m still very much a beginner and not in their league by any stretch of the imagination.”

Key and the four other nominees were due to accept their awards at the Wisden launch dinner at Inner temple Hall in Blackfriars this evening.

It is the first time since 1960 that all five ‘names’ have been selected from England, a feat Key believes is the ultimate team accolade following a superb year for Michael Vaughan’s side.

“We have enjoyed an unbelievable time in terms of Test cricket and this just caps it off,” he added.

“When you think of it there are a few more guys in the England side who might have won, including Geraint Jones, and that’s credit to the team and testament to the sort of year we have had.

“I’m not that keen on public speaking at the best of times, but in such esteemed cricketing company you can rest assured that I’ll be keeping my acceptance speech as brief as possible.”

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