Kent expect bowling dividend from Donald
KENT HAVE developed a strong core of young batting talent and new director of cricket Matt Walker believes that Allan Donald could be just the man to similarly transform their fast bowling stocks in their bid for County Championship promotion.
Sam Billings is currently out in India with England, while Daniel Bell-Drummond and Sam Northeast have been piling on the runs domestically in a bid to join him in the national set-up.
They helped Kent to second place in Division Two last season, but with the likes of Nottinghamshire and Sussex among those battling for promotion in 2017, an improved bowling attack will be needed to be in contention again.
And Walker, who took on the top job over the winter after Jimmy Adams’ departure, is confident Donald will have a major impact at Canterbury, albeit as an assistant coach rather than a fast bowling specialist.
He explained: “We have spoken since it was announced and I’ve been able to get a good idea of what he’s about.
“He’s excited about the opportunity at Kent and we share pretty similar values. You know pretty quickly if you are going to get on and work well with someone. I’m excited to work with him.
“For the young players at Kent it’s great. If you can’t get excited about spending time with Allan Donald then you’re probably in the wrong job.
“He’s going to be our assistant coach, Mark Ealham will still be there as fast bowling coach on a part-time basis. To have Allan around constantly when we are playing, it’s going to be a huge benefit to the bowling group.
“I’d not had much interaction with him as a coach before, and when we played against each other I didn’t usually last very long.
“But he views this as an opportunity to help his coaching career as well and we’re really excited to have him on board.”
It’s been a natural step up for Walker, who was announced as director of cricket just before Christmas at the county where he spent 16 seasons as a player. Having previously worked as an assistant alongside Adams, he admits there has been a slight change in focus, most notably with more wide-ranging responsibilities.
But while it is a first spell as the man in charge, Walker is confident that with the support of some former Kent teammates, as well as Adams himself, who is now in charge of the West Indies, he will be able to succeed in the new role.
“I’m hugely grateful to Jimmy, he took me on as assistant coach at Kent and made me feel very welcome,” he added.
“We worked very well together and I know he wouldn’t mind me picking up the phone and giving him a call.
“In his new job maybe he’ll be the one calling me!
“There are a few people who I trust to speak to about, some former teammates. Rob Key captained me and we’ve worked closely together. We have a similar view on the game so he’s one I can turn to. Similarly Steve Marsh and David Fulton were ex-captains of mine and people I could go to.”
As Paul Nixon says on the page opposite, the partnership of Matt Walker and Allan Donald has huge potential. Kent seem to be always on the peripheral when it comes to the County Championship and Donald’s knowhow could be just what they need for that final push to reach the promised land of Division One.
Impact: Allan Donald will be inspirational for Kent’s young players, says Matt Walker, inset