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Former England batsman Joe Denly agrees return to Kent Cricket after being released by Middlesex

By Alex Hoad

Just over three years after departing the club, Joe Denly has spoken of his excitement after agreeing a return to Kent.

On Monday evening the club confirmed the 28-year-old batsman had been released from his contract with Middlesex, and, as reported by the KM last week, has agreed to put pen to paper on a deal at the Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence.

At the same time Kent have also confirmed head coach Jimmy Adams has signed an extension to his own contract, news of which was revealed by KentOnline on October 1.

Denly - who has amassed more than 12,000 First Class and 19,000 career runs - said: “I’m delighted to be back. It’s exciting, seeing the squad as it is now with so much talent on display.

"It was evident last year how much of an influence the academy has had on the development here and it’s exciting to be a part of it.”

He added: “Most of the young guys were around when I was here and the older guys like Rob Key, Darren Stevens and James Tredwell were all here. I also used to play age-group cricket with Ben Harmison and Dave Griffiths and I’ve played against Mitch Claydon both here and in Australia, so I know everyone pretty well. Hopefully I’ll fit in again pretty quickly.”

Denly revealed a mid-season lunch meeting with his former skipper Key paved the way for his return: “When we were playing here earlier in the summer I came down early and caught up with Keysey over lunch. He asked me if I’d ever consider coming back. I hadn’t really thought about it until then, but having spent time thinking about it, it made sense.

“I’m sad to be leaving because Middlesex are a great club with some great people involved but I’m very happy the clubs were able to come to an agreement to get me back here.”

The former England ODI and T20 star accumulated just 1,800 runs in the past three seasons of top-flight Championship cricket, however he has set his sights on a return to the form which saw him pass 1,000 First Class runs in his final season with Kent, in 2011.

He added: “The first couple of years at Middlesex went well, though last year was a disappointment.

“Last winter I took it upon myself to try and make a couple of technical changes which didn’t quite work out the way I wanted. I went into the season without any form then found it really hard to get form and ended up getting dropped to the second team.

“That was a chance for me to focus on spending time in the middle and towards the back half of the year I felt really good, as good as i’ve felt.”

He added: “I feel like i have developed as a player, I’ve matured gained more experience and I’m looking forward to bringing that back to Kent and scoring runs to help us win games.”

The Whitstable-based star came through the ranks with Kent after joining as a 13-year-old and represented each age-group side before making his First Class debut against Oxford University in 2004.

The former Chaucer Technology School, Canterbury, pupil also impressed for England under-19s and captained an ECB Development of Excellence XI before making his mark with Kent in 2007 with a campaign which earned him an England Lions call-up.

In 2008 and 2009 Denly proved particularly impressive in limited overs cricket and earning a call-up to the England ODI squad to face Australia in August 2009 before going on to make nine ODI and five T20 appearances wearing the Three Lions, his last coming in February 2010.

After three seasons at the helm, Adams has also agreed a new deal.

He said: "I am delighted to sign a new contract and myself and the support staff want to reward the faith the club have shown in us with success over the coming years.

“We have a good group of players and I am hoping the emerging talent will continue their development alongside a core of experienced players."

Joe Denly in action for Middlesex at Canterbury. Picture: Barry Goodwin.
Joe Denly in action for Middlesex at Canterbury. Picture: Barry Goodwin.

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