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County Championship: Kent head coach Matt Walker full of praise for bowling unit

PUBLISHED: 08:45 10 May 2018

Kent's Darren Stevens (left) coach Matt Walker, Vice Captain Joe Denly, coach Allan Donald and Will Gidman (right) (pic: Gareth Fuller/PA)

Kent's Darren Stevens (left) coach Matt Walker, Vice Captain Joe Denly, coach Allan Donald and Will Gidman (right) (pic: Gareth Fuller/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

While Darren Stevens and Matt Henry continue to take the bulk of Kent’s championship wickets, it is the contribution of the county’s so-called lesser-light bowlers who are attracting most praise from head coach Matt Walker.

Stevens and Henry shared all 10 first-innings wickets and went on to take 16 between them during the county’s three-day win over Glamorgan at Sophia Gardens this week. Yet it was Harry Podmore, the winter recruit from Middlesex, and a fit-again Ivan Thomas whose tight bowling stints drew acclaim from their boss.

The hosts were skittled for a meagre 94 first time around then, with an 80-run lead at the mid-point, Kent’s bowlers continued to chip away by dismissing Glamorgan for 274 in their second innings.

Heino Kuhn’s unbeaten 65, coupled with 30s from Daniel Bell-Drummond and Sean Dickson, ensured that Kent ultimately made light of their run chase of 195, crossing the winning line with six wickets and four sessions in hand.

After his side’s second successive three-day win on the road, Walker said: “It was a really bizarre first day. I thought we bowled magnificently to keep them to 57 for no wicket in the first session when we didn’t really have that much luck.

“We have seen before this season that you often earn your right to success in the following session and that’s how it proved to be in Cardiff. To bowl them out for 37 runs in that mid-session on day one was extraordinary. Everybody bowled brilliantly.

“Ivan and Harry came on before lunch and kept it tight, which was crucial for us. Then, all those guys got their rewards in a crazy second session.”

Walker added: “Matt is bowling brilliantly and ‘Stevo’ is still doing his thing. It’s the bowling unit I’m most pleased with. I was delighted how all our seamers performed in this game, but overall, we played a fantastic three days of cricket and it was an extremely professional performance from start to finish.

“We came through some tests that hadn’t been put our way previously this season; to bowl on a wicket that was improving as a pitch was always going to be a test when it eventually came along having had a couple of bowler-friendly wickets in the past two games.

“Yes, I was very pleased with the win, it’s probably the best victory that I’ve been involved with as head coach. It’s difficult to gauge where you are after these low-scoring games, but we are getting better and we showed here that when the pitches improve — as this one did — our batters also improve.”

Walker will be looking for further improvement from Friday when his third-placed side entertain second-placed Sussex at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence.

Kent completed a Championship win double over their neighbours inside six weeks last season but, under the stewardship of coach Jason Gillespie — Kent’s interim assistant coach for 2017 — Sussex are proving a much tougher nut to crack this term.

Acting Kent captain Joe Denly seems likely to name an unchanged squad and starting XI, but Calum Haggett continues to push his claims with encouraging displays with bat and ball in the second team.

Grant Stewart is also on the comeback trail from a hamstring injury, but the game with Sussex may come a little too soon for the Aussie-raised all-rounder.

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