BLAST CAM­PAIGN WILL GO TO THE WIRE

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Football Www.kentonline.co.uk/sport - By Mark Stokes

Matt Walker says Kent’s NatWest T20 Blast cam­paign isn’t yet in make-or-break ter­ri­tory but they do need to start shift­ing the bal­ance of mo­men­tum to reach the knock-out stages.

Sun­day’s dra­matic tie with Sus­sex Sharks at Hove came on the back of suc­ces­sive de­feats against Glouces­ter­shire and Mid­dle­sex, a run that has left the Spit­fires in the bot­tom three of the South Group.

How­ever, only four points sep­a­rate the seven clubs tucked be­hind joint pace­set­ters Sur­rey and Glam­or­gan, and head coach Walker says the three games Kent face in the next week could be piv­otal.

Sam North­east’s men take on Som­er­set at the Spit­fire Ground, St Lawrence tonight (Thurs­day, 7pm) and then host Glam­or­gan at Can­ter­bury on Sun­day (3pm) be­fore Tues­day’s day-night con­test with Hampshire at the Ageas Bowl (7pm).

Walker said: “It’s re­ally tight, which shows the com­pet­i­tive­ness and the strength of this group.

“Ev­ery­one’s been beat­ing each other and there’s not a side you look at and think ‘yeah we’ll win this game hands down.’

“Every team has great qual­i­ties in their own dif­fer­ent ways and it makes for an ex­cit­ing cam­paign, one which will prob­a­bly go right down to the wire.”

Walker ad­mit­ted that the tie at Sus­sex felt like a win and says the squad re­main ‘re­ally con­fi­dent’ de­spite a se­quence which has pro­duced just one win in the five matches since the open­ing-game suc­cess over Es­sex.

He added: “We know what we’ve got in terms of abil­ity and skill and when you put it on pa­per it’s a strong out­fit but you’ve got to turn up and play well game in game out to get through this divi­sion.

“Every point is go­ing to be cru­cial but if you can get a bit of mo­men­tum, get on a bit of a run, it’s amaz­ing how that changes things.

“All of a sud­den you get two, three wins in a row and you’re right up there.

“If you don’t get a cou­ple of wins, you’re lurk­ing down at the bot­tom so you want to be that team that ev­ery­body else is chas­ing.”

He added: “When you get into that rhythm of win­ning games it’s amaz­ing how in­fec­tious it be­comes.

“I’m not say­ing the next three games are ab­so­lutely make-or­break, be­cause the way the league’s shaped they’re prob­a­bly not but we want to put our­selves into a po­si­tion of con­trol where we’re to­wards the top of the divi­sion and not look­ing over our shoul­ders.

“We don’t want to be wor­ry­ing about ‘We have to win these next three games or we’re out’ like last year so it would be nice to be able to get that mo­men­tum go­ing and give our­selves a chance, to have our fate in our hands rather than hav­ing to play catch up.”

Kiwi pace­man Adam Milne is still re­ceiv­ing treat­ment for a thigh strain but the county are hope­ful he will be fit to play some part this week.

Walker said: “We’re much more hope­ful now, he’s been work­ing hard with the physio. It’s been slightly slow pro­gess but he’s get­ting there. He was a lit­tle way off on Sun­day but he’s def­i­nitely im­prov­ing.”

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