SPITFIRES WILL TRAVEL DURING THE NIGHT
Matt Walker admits the Spitfires face a tricky balancing act with two NatWest T20 Blast games – more than 200 miles apart – in 24 hours that could determine their fate.
Despite the deflating five-wicket defeat in their last South Group game at home to Sussex last Friday, Kent still harbour hopes of a top-four finish and a quarter-final place in an incredibly tight division.
While they sit just a point off the bottom in seventh spot, Kent remain just two points behind fourth-placed Hampshire, who visit Canterbury on Friday (7pm) and only three off second-placed Somerset, who they visit at 4pm the following afternoon.
Walker admitted the two days could be pivotal to their chances but warned: “It’s going to be a little bit tricky in terms of managing the tiredness levels and the travel we have to deal with.
“It’s the first time it’s happened this year – this is the one instance we’ve got when we’re under pressure.
“We’ll finish late on Friday and then it’s a long four hours on the bus to get down there in the middle of the night ready for 4pm on Saturday.
“We’ve been in these situations before but the boys understand and they are pretty resolute. We have to try and prepare as well as we can for Saturday.
“Sometimes people respond brilliantly to those sort of situations and find a way. We just have to make sure everyone gets enough sleep and turns up on the day ready for it. We’ll work a way out.”
Kent have yet to win consecutive games in the competition this season – generally alternating between winning and losing – but Walker hopes a quick turnaround could help momentum.
He said: “It would be nice if we could get that first win on Friday night to lead us into the Saturday.
“We’ll pick a team to win each game whether that’s the same team or we make slight changes to take into account the ground size, surface or niggles.
“I’ll back a squad of 13 to be able to manage both games.”
Kent rested most senior T20 players for a three-day tour match against the West Indies this week but their Championship rivals were in action, with promotion rivals Worcestershire beaten by Sussex to give Walker’s side a boost.
He said: “There have been some interestingly low scores flying about in the Championship this week. I don’t think it’s easy to switch straight back into four-day mode from T20.
“It’s difficult, you’re expected to put out a strong side against the tourists but we have to be sensible.”
Meanwhile, Kent seamer Hugh Bernard has been given permission to negotiate a new contract at another county.
The 20-year-old, who played one FC match in 2016 and appeared twice on the pre-season FGS Plant Tour earlier this year, is out of contract at the end of the season. build positive KENT’S NEXT FIVE GAMES Aug 11 Hampshire (Canterbury) ...T20 Aug 18 Surrey (Canterbury)........... T20 Aug 28 Leicestershire (Canterbury) ....CC