Kent Season Preview 2024

Kent Season Preview 2024

2023 was a tough season for the Kent supporters as their team spent most of it in or just above the second relegation spot in the County Championship. Their two wins were against bottom placed Northamptonshire, but draws in their final three matches saw Middlesex take the drop.

Kent were handicapped by injuries to a significant number of players throughout the season, such that they used 26 players in the Championship and at one point had to call in two emergency loan players. The lure of white ball cricket has also had an impact with last year’s captain, Sam Billings opting to now take a white ball only contract. It has been a difficult 12 months for Billings, pulling out of last year’s IPL to focus on red ball cricket and then scoring just 92 runs in 10 innings, before handing over the captaincy to Jack Leaning. Daniel Bell-Drummond has now been given the Championship captaincy, with Leaning his deputy.

Ben Compton remains at the top of the batting order and led their Championship run scoring for the second year in succession, albeit with 458 runs less than in 2022. Only he and Leaning of the recognised batters survived the whole Championship campaign, due to injury issues. It seems likely that he will open with Zak Crawley, depending on whether the England opener wishes to have more of a break following his excellent performances in India this winter. Otherwise Crawley will not be needed by England until the Tests against the West Indies starting on July 10. In his absence, 23-year-old Tawanda Muyeye moved to open and made a creditable 571 runs, including his maiden first class century. Harry Finch kept wicket in Billings’ absence and the options behind the stumps are reduced with Jordan Cox going to Essex. Cox’s departure seems to have pre-dated Billings’ decision regarding red ball cricket and follows Ollie Robinson’s move to Durham at the end of the 2022 season in search of more opportunities to don the gloves.

Joe Denly is now in his 39th year, but has a contract taking him to the end of the 2025 season. He will be hoping to continue to be productive, having made only 293 runs from 13 innings in last season’s Championship, although he fared better in the Blast.

The bowling contingent also struggled with injuries and the two top wicket takers in the Championship, Wes Agar and Matt Quinn managed only 21 wickets each. Kent have re-signed Agar for the first four months of the season alongside fellow Australian paceman Xavier Bartlett, who made his international debut in February. There has been no announcement as to who will replace them for the latter half of the summer. Kent have also signed two domestic pace bowlers. The first is South African seamer Michael Cohen, who comes in on a two-year deal. He qualifies as a domestic player through residency, having played for Derbyshire between 2020 and 2022. He missed most of the 2021 season with a back injury, managing just 15 appearances during his time at Derbyshire, in first class and T20 cricket, claiming 23 wickets. The 25-year-old left arm quick had played for South Africa under 19s and Western Province and has taken 68 first class wickets at 26.13. The second is Warwickshire’s George Garrett, who has also signed a two-year contract. The 24-year-old had limited opportunities at Warwickshire, having joined the club in 2019 and will be hoping to get on the field more.

Hamidullah Qadri provided the main spin threat, the off spinner taking 15 Championship wickets at 38.40. He will be joined this season by Matt Parkinson, signed from Lancashire. Although it is two years since his last appearance for England, Parkinson is still only 27-years-old and will boost Kent’s bowling threat, particularly in the white ball competitions.

Kent were not far away from success in the white ball competitions, finishing just below a knock- out place in both. The bowling has been bolstered for the Blast by the two overseas signings, but they will be relying on Bell-Drummond, Denly and hopefully a reinvigorated Billings for runs. The loss of Cox will have an impact on the strength of the batting.

Behind the scenes, Director of Cricket Paul Downton stepped down at the end of the 2023 season, to be replaced by bowling coach Simon Cook. Robbie Joseph, who joins from Gloucestershire, has taken over the bowling responsibilities while highly respected batting coach Toby Radford has replaced Alex Gidman, who has moved on to become assistant coach of the England women’s team. Radford has worked with batters all around the world, as well as spending two years as Glamorgan head coach.

Key player

It seems a long time since then Kent captain Rob Key declared that Daniel Bell-Drummond had the talent to play 100 Tests, but while the chance of international honours now seem to have gone, the 30-year-old remains a respected batter in the county game. His early career stalled because of inconsistency, but Kent showed faith and he has now been appointed as club captain. He is approaching 8000 first class runs from 150 matches, but his average of 33.83 is the problem. He has averaged around 44 for the last two seasons and will be looking to set the tone for the batting, coming in at three. He has also carved out a successful career in T20 cricket, playing in various franchise competitions around the world and has been re-signed by the London Spirit for the Hundred.

One to watch

If Tawanda Muyeye’s career continues on its current path there could well end up being a film made of his story. Born in Zimbabwe, he grew up in Harare excelling at both cricket and rugby, playing for the Zimbabwe national cricket side at under-13 and under-16 level and the national under-14 rugby side. His mother was a supporter of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change and because of fears for their safety the family moved to the UK, where they sought asylum and received full leave to stay in 2021. He won a scholarship to Eastbourne College where his cricket flourished and was signed by Kent in 2021. He has moved to the top of the order and is closing in on a 1000 first class runs. He averaged a healthy 35.68 in the Championship last summer and is also developing as a T20 batter, earning a gig with the Oval Invincibles. He has rightly set his sights on higher honours with his adopted country.

Overseas signings: Wes Agar (Australia, until end of July), Xavier Bartlett (Australia, first half of season)

Ins: Matt Parkinson (Lancashire), George Garrett (Warwickshire), Michael Cohen (ex-Derbyshire)

Outs: Jordan Cox (Essex), Alex Blake (released), James Logan (released), Michael Hogan (retired), Ben Lister (Nottinghamshire)

How will they fare: It is difficult to believe that Kent can have as many problems with injuries as in 2023 and their performances will undoubtedly reflect that. While in the Championship they are likely to be focussed on survival in the top Division, they will be hoping to be more competitive in the white ball competitions.

Opening fixture: LV= County Championship vs Somerset on April 5 at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, Canterbury

Season Odds (SkyBet):

County Championship – 25/1

T20 Blast – N/A

One-Day Cup – N/A


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