Key set to con­tinue

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Kent Cricket - By Alex Hoad

‘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.”

Pic­ture: Barry Good­win

Kent’s Rob Key plans to carry on play­ing for the county next

sea­son

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