Cricket: Clever recruitment helps Kent dominate Vitality Blast T20
PUBLISHED: 16:13 31 July 2019
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Kent's recruitment strategy has helped the Spitfires get off to a flyer in this year's Vitality Blast as they head the South Group standings with four wins from as many starts.
With a brace of overseas stars in New Zealand's Adam Milne and Afghanistan all-rounder Mohammad Nabi added to the ranks, Kent have also signed South Africans Heino Kuhn and Hardus Viljoen on Kolpak terms to further strengthen the squad that reached last year's quarter-finals.
Under the rookie leadership of Daniel Bell-Drummond - the 25-year-old has been thrust into the captain's chair in the absence of Sam Billings (shoulder), Joe Denly (England) and Kuhn (concussion) - Kent swept aside Somerset, Hampshire and Essex before clinching their fourth success in Tuesday night's rain reduced, seven-over bash at The Kia Oval, where Nabi, Milne, Viljoen and Kuhn were all to the fore in a nine-wicket win.
After collecting the man-of-the-match award for hitting 43 off 12 balls to win his 219th domestic T20 match, Nabi said: "I've played a lot of T20 games in the last year and a T10 tournament recently as well, so these sort of seven-over games are more easy for me.
"I've played plenty of short-form cricket all over the world now and that experience takes the pressure off, it makes it easy to me.
"In the shorter formats the bowler is also under pressure. Everyone is looking to hit. The outfield was wet, the ball got wet too, so that's possibly why they bowled badly and their lines and lengths were in my range.
"I'm really enjoying it at Kent, my family is also with me for the first time and I'm really loving playing cricket here."
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Milne, who is enjoying his third stint with the Spitfires, also played a big part in Kent's win in SE11 with a stunning two-over spell of one for eight, which even included an opening maiden.
"It's really nice to come to grounds you've played at in a competition you know and with a group of lads, most of whom, I've played with before," said the 27-year-old Black Caps paceman.
"There are a few new guys in the Kent side this year in Zak (Crawley), Ollie (Robinson) and Jordan (Cox) and that makes it all the more exciting to see youngsters coming through the club's ranks.
"It always feels good to slot back into a team you know and work with coaches you know, because Kent understand how I work now and that means things go smoothly, there's no real process of finding each other out all over again.
"I've been training back home in New Zealand for the last three or four months before coming here, so I feel really fresh and happy to play my part in a strong squad. Apart from the youngsters, we've added Hardus as another strike bowler, which not only adds pace but he gives us extra aggression and attacking options through the middle.
"Then, with Nabi, as a strong batter and frontline spinner alongside Imran Qayyum, we have great balance to the squad. If you look around the stats in world T20 cricket, the spinners tend to be very useful in the middle phases.
"Spin also plays a bigger role the longer the tournament goes on. You only have to look at last year's quarter-final against Lancashire. That was played on a turning wicket and it sure would have been nice to have someone like Nabi, with all his experience, back then."
As their busy week continues, Kent play Middlesex at Lord's on Thursday before travelling overnight to Hove, where they take on Sussex Sharks under the lights 24 hours later. Then, on Sunday, Spitfires entertain Hampshire at Beckenham in a 3pm start.