Overall, it is fair to say that the men of Kent had a solid season with a mid-table finish in the Championship and winning the Royal London One Day Cup. Ben Compton emerged as a high-quality red ball opener as the batters cashed in on batter friendly pitches at Canterbury but highlighted 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 club used a staggering 28 players in First Class cricket in 2022 to mitigate injury problems and international call ups, so will be hoping for greater selectorial stability in 2023.
The close season saw some interesting transfer business at Canterbury, the most notable being the signing of veteran 41-year-old Aussie seamer Michael Hogan from Glamorgan shortly after he announced his retirement from professional cricket. This could be particularly astute to bring in an old head to support exciting young bowlers like Nathan Gilchrist, and to also fill the holes left by the departures of Harry Podmore and Matt Milnes to Glamorgan and Yorkshire respectively.
The recruitment of Arshdeep Singh, the talented Indian international left arm seamer for the first five games of the Championship season could also be an astute piece of business to bolster what looks like a seam bowling unit lacking in star quality. Arshdeep will slot in alongside South African spin bowling allrounder George Linde as the club’s Championship overseas contingent.
Other incomings include Joey Evison, who initially joined on loan last season and played a crucial role in the club’s Royal London One Day Cup success, and will help to offset the exit of Ollie Robinson to Durham, and the release of the evergreen Darren Stevens. Aussie international fast bowler Kane Richardson also joins for the T20 Blast.
Captain Sam Billings withdrawal from the IPL to play Championship cricket for Kent is also like a new signing as in recent years he has not been around as much as he likes, especially as he knows he is still in international contention in a massive summer of international cricket with the Ashes and the World Cup. A good start will leave well placed to take advantage of any unexpected opportunities. Zak Crawley will also need a good start to the season to relieve the pressure on him after an average winter in test cricket.
The club’s best opportunity for silverware remains in white ball formats, where the flat tracks at Canterbury allows them to display their batting firepower where the likes of Billings, Joe Denly, Daniel Bell-Drummond and talented youngsters such as Tawanda Muyeye can express themselves and win games through scoreboard pressure.
Ins: Joey Evison (Notts) Michael Hogan (Glam)
Outs: Matt Milnes (Yorks) Darren Stevens (REL) Ollie Robinson (Dur) Harry Podmore (Glam) Matt Henry (Som)
The performances of Ben Compton will again be key to provide top order stability, but the availability of captain Sam Billings will provide important leadership and star quality to the club during the important early season games. He will undoubtedly have the bit between his teeth for put his name in the hat for international selection.
One to Watch
Tawanda Muyeye has been talked about at Canterbury as a once in a generation talent. His family fled Zimbabwe and came to the UK as refugees with Muyeye being given indefinite leave to remain in March 2021, and who has declared his ambition to play for England. An attacking right hander in the modern mould with shots all round the wicket, he has shown glimpses of his talent in all formats, although he is yet to make a hundred in professional cricket, it will surely not be far away. If he succeeds, he would become a modern example of what compassion, kindness, and opportunity to those outside our borders looks like in a world where such qualities appear to be less ingrained than they once were.
Kent have made the impressive swoop for Indian up and coming star Arshdeep Singh, the 24 year old has promise and the Canterbury faithful will be hoping his left arm seam up bowling will provide wickets on early season pitches in his June and July stay with the club. He has taken 21 wickets in his seven First Class appearances and will be hoping to add some more for Kent.
Singh will be supplemented by another left arm bowler, however this one is a tweaker and twirler rather than pacer, as George Linde joins from South Africa’s ranks. Having played three tests for the Proteas he has sown great promise taking nine wickets in those matches at an average of 28, when you take in his 247 wickets in First Class cricket his record looks even more impressive. He unlike Singh will over runs in the middle order too, having started out his career as a batter.
In T20 Kent have also acquired the services of Australian Kane Richardson who has a wealth of experience plying his trade in franchise leagues around the world. He will be hoping this experience can guide Kent back to finals day and a tilt at the T20 Blast title.
Possible Championship Side
- Ben Compton
- Zak Crawley
- Joe Denly
- Jack Leaning
- Jordan Cox
- Sam Billings (c) (wk)
- Joey Evison
- George Linde
- Grant Stewart
- Matt Quinn
- Arshdeep Singh
How they’ll fare
Kent have a batting line up to fear if they are all present and available, all have them have either player for England or been talked about in serious consideration for an England place. If they can keep that batting order fit, runs should not be a problem and runs make winning games so much more easy. The question will be have they got the fire power to take 20 wickets consistently in the championship, if Singh can have the impact they can avoid being at the bottom of Division One as many are predicting.
LVCC Div One – Kent CCC vs Northamptonshire CCC, The Spitfire Ground Canterbury
Season Odds (Skybet.com)
LV County Championship 14/1
T20 Blast 12/1