Cricket: Storey settling into Kent role

PUBLISHED: 08:00 12 April 2019

The start of play at The Spitfire Ground, Canterbury.

The start of play at The Spitfire Ground, Canterbury.

PA Archive/PA Images

Kent’s recently-installed chief executive officer Simon Storey is just about getting used to the best possible view of The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence – it’s from his own office overlooking the mid-wicket ropes near the Old Dover Road.

Kent chief executive Simon Storey at The Spitfire Ground, Kent.Kent chief executive Simon Storey at The Spitfire Ground, Kent.

Storey arrived in Canterbury in January supported by his wife, family and an impressive CV that included senior management and market roles with Johnson & Johnson, the US healthcare conglomerate.

Prior to joining the club, Storey had kept a firm hand on the tiller at Derbyshire County Cricket Club where, during his seven-year tenure, he steered the East Midlands’ side to record commercial revenues as well as overseeing a £4.5 million redevelopment that transformed the Old Racecourse Ground.

Commenting soon after replacing Kent’s interim chief executive, Ben Green, at the turn of the year, Storey likened his appointment to a “home-coming”, referring to the fact that his mother’s side of the family have famed in Kent for over 150 years and that many of his family members still live in the Garden of England.

Having had four months to set down his own roots, Storey admits he is enjoying getting to grips with his Kentish role.

The Kent squad pose for a team picture during the media day at The Spitfire GroundThe Kent squad pose for a team picture during the media day at The Spitfire Ground

“With Kent winning promotion last season I’ve arrived at a really great time,” said Storey.

“And, to some extent, it’s a virtuous circle, in that with success comes optimism and heightened interest in the club, which will hopefully bring more sponsors and commercial partners through the doors. I’d like to think they are sponsors we’ll be able to work with in the long-term.

“We’ll also look to get more people through the gates, which is an opportunity to grow revenues but also to make sure that future generations will be inspired by the game and will continue to support Kent, be it here, at Beckenham or in Tunbridge Wells.

“Our opportunity now is to take our commercial ventures to the next level.”

On the field, Kent are playing at first division level for the first time in eight years, but made a disappointing start to their 2019 Specsavers County Championship campaign after falling to a last-day defeat to Somerset in Taunton.

Despite bossing their season’s opener for several sessions, Kent, under the interim captaincy of Heino Kuhn, wilted on the fourth day to lose by 74 runs after being dismissed for 131 in pursuit of a fourth-innings target of 206.

Without the likes of Joe Denly, Sam Billings (on IPL duty), the injured Ivan Thomas, Grant Stewart and Calum Haggett, as well as last season’s leading wicket-taker, the New Zealand paceman Matt Henry, Kent performed with some credit.

None more so that veteran seam bowler Mitchell Claydon, 36, who returned career-best first-class match figures of 9-112 in a losing cause.

Forever the pragmatist, Australian-born Claydon said: “I was pleased to get amongst the wickets because I missed a lot of last season because of a hand injury and I’m not getting any younger. If other guys had been fit, I might not have featured, so I really enjoyed it.

“There’s always chatter about the big difference between first and second division cricket, but that doesn’t worry us. We’ve only got three guys who have played in the top division before, but we’ve tried to get across that it’s just one team with 11 players we’re up against and one day or one result doesn’t make a season.

“Matt Milnes is buzzing after his debut. Leaving Nottinghamshire was a big decision for him, but he’s come here to play consistently, which is all you want to do if you’re a professional cricketer. That was a great way for him to start [5-94 match figures].

“Zak [Crawley] and Sean [Dickson] both batted beautifully against Somerset and showed that they belong in this division. We’ve lost three good players, but we now have a group of young guys who are ambitious and who want to do well.”

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