Overall, the men of Kent had a solid season with a mid-table finish in the Championship and winning the Royal London One Day Cup.
The emergence of Ben Compton as a high-quality red ball opener was a huge positive, but further highlighted the struggles of his more illustrious colleagues to churn out the big scores required to win games. The batter-friendly nature of the pitches at Canterbury emphasised the need to strengthen the bowling unit for red and white ball cricket, particularly red ball as they regularly conceded 400+ first innings totals. The likes of Nathan Gilchrist toiled manfully, but this should be the primary focus for the recruitment team during the close season.
Kent will also need to replace two major players in the evergreen Darren Stevens and wicketkeeper-batter Ollie Robinson who has moved to Durham for more keeping opportunities.
There is plenty of talent in the squad, and they will be happy with their years’ work, even if there is room for improvement.
LV= CC: 5th – Division One
Vitality Blast: 9th Group B
LV= CC: Ben Compton – 1193 runs at 54.22
Vitality Blast: Joe Denly – 423 at 32.53 (SR 123.32)
RLODC: Ollie Robinson – 534 at 59.33
LV= CC: Nathan Gilchrist – 33 wickets at 27.03
Vitality Blast: Grant Stewart/Qais Ahmed – 14 wickets
RLODC: Hamidullah Qadri – 15 wickets at 33.20
Player of the season: Ben Compton – the opener with the illustrious surname certainly lived up to his ancestry, leading the first class run charts for most of the season. His remarkable performance against Lancashire when he carried his bat in the first innings and was last man out in the second will have certainly caught the attention of the selectors, and his overall performances will surely see him in with a shout for England honours whether with the Lions or the full side. He backed this up with a good Royal London One Day Cup campaign where he scored five 50’s in 10 innings.
Breakthrough Player: Nathan Gilchrist – the young Zimbabwean topped the red ball bowling charts for Kent with 33 wickets at 27.03. While those figures on the surface may not stand out, when you factor in that Canterbury was perhaps one of the better batting tracks in the country when Kent regularly conceded 500+ first innings scores it adds a little bit of context. He often bowled with pace, bounce and some movement. He looks capable of leading the Kent attack for the next few seasons.
Could have done better: Zak Crawley – the England opener had a poor time in a Kent shirt last year, and openly admitted that 2022 was probably the worst year of his career so far. In an England shirt he perhaps looks uncertain as to his best method and was unable to find his confidence when he played for his home club. In a summer where run scoring was markedly easier than previous years, for a player of his talent to average 27.47 and not score a single first class hundred hints at someone who still needs to learn his game.
Need to work on: The bowling attack undoubtedly needs strengthening next year, especially with legendary stalwart Darren Stevens moving on to to pastures new for 2023. The emergence of Grant Stewart looks like someone who could fill that void, but the squad looks short of new ball threat in red ball cricket so it will be interesting to see what business they do in the off season to strengthen.
What’s next? Overall, Kent can claim to have had a reasonable season, finishing mid table in Division One of the Championship and winning the Royal London One Day Cup means there is more positives than negatives. A disappointing Vitality Blast can be put down to a significant number of key players being drafted to the Hundred, but this will be one area for improvement next season. At the moment, without some quality to strengthen the bowling attack, they do not look like a side that will challenge on all fronts but may threaten in the white ball competitions.
Season Rating – Mark: 7/10