Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Football Www.kentonline.co.uk/sport - By Alex Hoad

Kent head coach Matt Walker says his star-stud­ded Spit­fires side are ca­pa­ble of ‘spe­cial things’ in the NatWest T20 Blast this sea­son.

Kent beat Es­sex Ea­gles by seven wick­ets at Beck­en­ham on Sun­day and will seek to build on the open­ing win when they take on Glouces­ter­shire at Chel­tenham at 2.30pm to­day (Thurs­day).

They then face a test­ing trip to a sold-out Oval to face Sur­rey at 6.30pm on Fri­day.

Walker said: “It’s a great time of year, ev­ery­one gets ex­cited for it, play­ers and fans. There is the an­tic­i­pa­tion of play­ing in front of big crowds and the buzz. Fast cricket is what it’s about nowa­days. The boys are ex­cited.

“If we can get off to a bit of a flier in this com­pe­ti­tion, with the side we’ve got then I’m ex­pect­ing some pretty good things.

“T20 is a for­mat that suits us – if we gel. The side on pa­per is ex­cit­ing but there are also some other ex­cit­ing sides in the group.

“A side on pa­per only gets you so far, it’s what you do when you cross that white line that counts.

“I am pos­i­tive, as all the lads are, that if we can play to our full po­ten­tial, I’m sure we could do some­thing pretty spe­cial this year.”

Their open­ing win was thanks in part to New Zealand in­ter­na­tional Adam Milne fin­ish­ing with 2-24 and com­pa­triot Jimmy Nee­sham 3-37 as the Ea­gles were re­stricted to 166-8.

Daniel Bell-Drum­mond then cracked an un­beaten 90 from just 55 balls to guide Kent to the line in the 19th over.

Walker added: “Jimmy and Adam could be im­por­tant for us. They are both fine play­ers with in­ter­na­tional ex­pe­ri­ence and IPL ex­pe­ri­ence. They add to a strong side. Hav­ing Sam Billings back is al­most like hav­ing an­other new sign­ing, too – he’s hun­gry and ready to go.”

The well-drilled Spit­fires ben­e­fited from an eight-hour train­ing ses­sion at the County Ground on Satur­day, with all fit se­nior play­ers in­volved in train­ing rather than be­ing al­lowed to play club cricket in the Kent League.

Walker said: “We only had one day to re­ally rack a few ideas around and get our points across to the play­ers lead­ing into Sun­day.”

Mitch Clay­don (side strain) will miss both games but could come into con­tention for the open­ing game at Can­ter­bury against Glouces­ter­shire on

‘T20 is a for­mat that suits us - if we gel. The side on pa­per is ex­cit­ing’

Tues­day (6.30pm) when the first 4,000 fans through the gates will re­ceive a pair of Spit­fires sun­glasses.

Over­seas player Nee­sham was de­lighted to hit the ground run­ning in his first out­ing for the Spit­fires.

He said: “When you come to a new team you want to do the ba­sics right and put the ball in good ar­eas.

“If guys play good shots and get runs then you take it on the chin and move on. You go round the world and play for different teams so it’s be­come what you do.

“You al­ways want to per­form strongly for a new team and show the fans that they’ve got a good one. Hope­fully, I can do that over the next cou­ple of weeks.”

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