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Cricket: Kent face key clash in rain-hit T20 campaign

PUBLISHED: 15:38 31 July 2018 | UPDATED: 15:38 31 July 2018

Australia's Marcus Stoinis hits out as England's Jos Buttler looks on during the one-day international match at the SSE SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff (pic Nigel French/PA)

Australia's Marcus Stoinis hits out as England's Jos Buttler looks on during the one-day international match at the SSE SWALEC Stadium, Cardiff (pic Nigel French/PA)

PA Wire/PA Images

Three rain-ruined games in succession have left Kent with everything to play for if they are to progress from this season’s hard-fought Vitality Blast T20 qualifying campaign.

Spitfires have garnered single points after their South Group matches against Surrey, Sussex and Glamorgan all fell foul to the inclement weather of late July within the space of nine days, ensuring a return to winning ways will be vital come Thursday’s visit of Essex Eagles to The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence (7pm start).

Weather permitting, Spitfires fans will also get their first glimpse of Marcus Stoinis, the Australia all-rounder, wearing a Kent shirt.

In welcoming Stoinis to the fold, Kent’s head coach Matt Walker said: “Now that Carlos Brathwaite has left us, we truly feel spoilt for riches to bring in a world-class player like Marcus into our squad.

“He’s a three-dimensional cricketer: brilliant in the field and with bat and ball too. He will add that Aussie competitiveness, which I like in the dressing room. He’s a feisty character who hates losing and is a very skilful fella to have in your side.

“It’s exciting to have him here for the rest of the tournament. We signed our T20 players first during pre-season as they’re in such demand and we’re delighted to now see him in a Kent shirt.”

Stoinis, who made five 2nd XI appearances for Kent in 2012, has since starred in the Indian Premier League and at home in the Big Bash League as well as earning a central contract with Australia.

On his return to The Spitfire Ground, he said: “I haven’t been to Canterbury in eight years, but it’s a lot more familiar being back than I thought it would be.

“I played a couple of games on this ground and a couple at Beckenham and have a few old mates from that 2nd XI side in Ivan Thomas, Calum Haggett, Fabian Cowdrey and Oli Robinson – and I was staying with Sam Billings’ family back then.

“I remember celebrating my 20th birthday while I was here and Sam’s mum baked me a cake which I had to carry into the dressing room and share out with the guys. It was like being back at school because everyone sang happy birthday, it was pretty funny, but they were a great group of lads back then and nothing too much has changed.”

Spitfires will hope to select from an unchanged squad, but will again be without wily bowlers James Tredwell and Will Gidman.

Tredwell, the former England off-spinner, is out for the rest of the season having had keyhole surgery to correct a troublesome, long-term shoulder injury.

Gidman, the 33-year-old seamer formerly with Durham, Gloucestershire and Nottinghamshire, has announced his retirement from playing and plans to move into coaching.

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