Season Review 2016: Kent

Had this been any other season, Kent would surely have been celebrating a much overdue to Division One of the County Championship.

With a rule change to mix up the number of teams in each division, the Canterbury side were the unfortunate runners-up, enough to get them promotion in any season but this.

It would have been a first season in the top flight since 2010, with the further frustration of losing fewer games than eventual champions Essex to further add to the disappointment of missing out on the upper echelon of the county game.

Hindsight will tell you the omens were bad from the very start. Misfortune plagued Kent, with the first game of the season washed out with only a ball bowled at Worcestershire, set to have been a direct rival for promotion having themselves enjoyed yo-yo spells between the two divisions.

Without a chance to get on the board early, there was a partial need to play catch up already, performed in no better way than the ten-wicket win – chasing 190 without disruption – against a Glamorgan side who had stirred the pot with 414 in the third innings.

High scores were to become a regularity. Each of their first five completed games featured a 400+ score for either themselves or opposition, the most thrilling of which saw Derbyshire bowled out for 94 despite making almost 500 in the first innings.

It took until July for the first defeat of the season, coming against the champions and a clinical batting display as Essex made the most of a rare Alastair Cook performance.

But the campaign was far from over, only suffering again in September as a Ben Duckett masterclass killed off any chances with a sublime double hundred, with a final day draw against Kent seeing them miss out on Division One by 23 points.

A County Championship push inevitably meant one competition was to lose its strength, with just six wins from their Natwest T20 Blast campaign seeing them miss out on the quarterfinal stage.

That was not to be the problem in the Royal London One-Day Cup, however, as despite three defeats in eight, results elsewhere gave Kent a home tie in the last eight.

But, as those at Canterbury will attest, bad luck reared its ugly head. Getting the better of quarterfinal opponents for the best part of the game, Yorkshire’s talent – and their eight former or current England internationals – shone through to take the game away from Kent, a sorry regularity of their season.

Player of the Season: Sam Northeast

With three more centuries than anyone else in the side, this particular gong has to head in the direction of Sam Northeast, enjoying a flourishing season in the County Championship.

Averaging 83.56 for the season, the man tipped to be a future England skipper struck five 100s in his 1,337 runs, reaching a career-best 191 against Derbyshire in July, showing his ability to convert centuries into bigger scores.

And the 26-year-old was not done there, using the last game of the season to perfectly offload some emotion, scoring an unbeaten 178 from 177 balls with 25 fours and three maximums to sign off from Canterbury in style against the division winners.

Breakthrough Player: Sean Dickson

Perhaps Sean Dickson is a touch over-qualified to break through at 25, but a first full season at Canterbury is enough for him to earn the gong.

You have to go back to May for his star performance, helping down Derbyshire – itself a bonkers game – with a double-century display in just his second score in three-figures in his short career to date.

It seemed he would add to that in one-day colours, falling for 99 in One-Day Cup action at Lord’s.

Could have done better: Joe Denly

Reflecting on just how strong Kent’s batting was this season, Denly finished lowest in the charts for regular batsman, despite finishing with an average close to 40.

One double-hundred also gives the opener a lop-sided tally, hoping to add to his totals at the top of the order next year.

SSCC: 2nd Division Two

T20 Blast: 7th, South Group

RLODC: Quarter-finals (2nd, South Group)

Leading run-scorers:

SSCC: Sam Northeast – 1337 @ 83.56; T20 Blast: Daniel Bell-Drummond – 379 – SR: 148.04; RLODC: Joe Denly – 428 @ 61.14

Leading wicket-takers:

SSCC: Mitchell Claydon – 48 @ 31.64; T20 Blast: David Griffiths – 13 – Econ: 9.60; RLODC: Matt Coles – 24 – Econ: 5.21

Win %: 42%

What’s next?

With strong teams now sitting in Division Two, Kent will go into the season unfancied, but it seems to be a position they thrive on. Nottinghamshire, Worcestershire, Sussex and Hampshire will all provide promotion threats, while a stronger showing in the Blast will surely be a target.

Season Rating

An unfortunate season at Canterbury saw an England-esque Yorkshire ruin One-Day Cup glory, while mathematics stunted promotion, although silverware did prove elusive.

Mark: 6/10

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