Key set to continue
‘I am glad the way the season ended. It’s probably my best form since 2004’
A rejuvenated Rob Key intends to return to Kent next season after having the burden of captaincy lifted from his shoulders.
Three months ago, speculation was rife that 2015 might be the 36-year-old’s last year on the field after a loss of form led to him dropping himself, handing the captaincy to Sam Northeast and spending more time on his burgeoning media career.
However, after threatening a century in the tourist game against Australia in late June, Key hit a rich vein of form. He scored 590 runs in his final eight innings of the LV= County Championship summer at an average of 74 and recorded his 54th First Class century with 158 in the penultimate game at Cardiff.
He also fell six runs short of reaching three figures in the first innings to finish the campaign on 19,419 First Class runs and 34 short of 29,000 career runs in all formats.
Key admitted: “I enjoy batting and am glad with the way the season has ended. It’s probably my best form since 2004.
“I have enjoyed the last couple of months, playing and showing that I am better than what you had previously seen, although there probably should have been a few more runs.
“I have a year left on my contract and at the minute I don’t see any reason why I won’t go into next season as a player, where I have been a hell of a lot more successful (than as a captain).”
Key backed his vice-captain Northeast to continue as skipper in 2016.
“He has done a good job but it’s no surprise to me,” said Key. “I’ve had him down to do it one day for a long time. Hopefully, he can go on and create a great era here.”
With the return of Joe Denly to the club this season, Key dropped to No.3 in the batting line-up in April, allowing Denly and Daniel Bell-Drummond to open but he admitted: “I couldn’t stand it.
“I made the decision with good intentions but I have ended up averaging 70 as an opener.
“It’s been nice to get rid of the burden of captaincy and look at my own form as a batter.
“When you get old, form is a nightmare. When you’re young and things aren’t going for you, you just think ‘I’m out of form but it will come.’
“When you get to my age, you are questioning whether your eyes have gone, ‘have I still got it, is it ever coming back,’ which in a way makes it more satisfying when it does.”
The former England man has no regrets about opting out of white ball cricket this summer in favour of TV work, although he admitted it has been bizarre covering Kent matches as a television analyst for Sky Sports.
He said: “I feel since I took the captaincy back we have made strides, particularly in one-day cricket.
“I want to make sure Kent have a bright future and me getting playing time ahead of a prospect like Daniel Bell-Drummond – which was the choice – would not have been right.
“The Sky thing has worked well. It’s a bit bizarre covering Kent but when I’m not playing I always feel a bit of a spare part – I like to be involved.
“As for the future with Sky, who knows? I’ll have to play it by ear. I am not taking anything for granted, although I love doing the media work. It’s brilliant.”
Kent’s Rob Key plans to carry on playing for the county next