County Championship 2021: Kent preview

What happened last year

Kent were unfortunate in the 2020 Bob Willis Trophy having been narrowly defeated by 2 wickets in a team missing their red ball core of batting talent in Zak Crawley, Sam Billings and Joe Denly all to England duty; Kent finished the year with 3 wins, 1 rained off draw and that single loss.

Key Player

With a strong core of red ball batsmen with the England trio and the young talent of Jordan Cox and Ollie Robinson coming through Kent are well stocked in the batting line up, paired with their fearsome pace attack; there a lot of players who could be put forward for key men.

On the face of it, one of these should be the key man however; Darren Stevens dominated the Bob Willis Trophy last year he took 29 wickets at 15.58. Despite his age, Stevo is the leader of the Kent attack and much will rely on his medium pace with the new ball. Harry Podmore, Matt Milnes, Freddie Klassen and new signing Nathan Gilchrist will provide fearsome back up.

Whilst he will be 45 this year, underestimate Darren Stevens at your peril.

England hopeful

My England hopeful for this summer is Joe Denly. Having lost his place in the England squads, Joe will be available for the entire summer. Zak Crawley will be available for the first period of the championship before test duty, whilst Sam Billings will be at the IPL. Much will rest on Denly.

Having been removed as Vice Captain for this season in place of Daniel Bell-Drummond; Denly has been Kent's top averaging batsmen in the County Championship in three of the last four years (in the 2019, Denly averaged 56 whereas Sam Billings averaged 61).

Denly will be looking to put his name forward to reclaim his spot in the English top order after the torrid winter faced by his county colleague Zak Crawley in addition to Jonny Bairstow, Rory Burns and Dom Sibley.

At 35; most would say Denly's chance for a England re-selection is declining, but there must be something in the water at Canterbury, for age seems no barrier.

Target for the year

In the rejigged tournament this year: Kent will face Sussex, Northamptonshire, Lancashire, Glamorgan and Yorkshire. Given their respective counties strengths, Kent should fear no-one and especially with Zak Crawley available at the start of the season, they should prove difficult to dislodge.

Kent should expect to compete to win their group and anything less than being there or there abouts should be a disappointment.

Overseas players: Heino Kuhn, Miguel Cummins


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