Kent ex­pect bowl­ing div­i­dend from Don­ald

The Cricket Paper - - NEWS - By Paul Ed­di­son

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.

PIC­TURES: Getty Im­ages

Im­pact: Al­lan Don­ald will be in­spi­ra­tional for Kent’s young play­ers, says Matt Walker, inset

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