Key: Youngsters need to bide time
Despite six new arrivals at Canterbury during the winter, Rob Key has reassured Kent’s youngsters they will get their chance in the first team as the season progresses.
After finishing eighth in LV= County Championship Division Two last year, Kent brought in batsmen Scott Newman, Brendan Nash and Michael Powell, all-rounder Ben Harmison and seamers Charlie Shreck and Mark Davies, who all impressed on their debuts in the encouraging draw against Yorkshire last week.
And after 21-year-old Matt Coles struck his maiden century at Headingley Carnegie, former England batsman Key also expects the club’s other emerging players to have a big say on first-team matters this season.
Asked about his new team, Key told ecb.co.uk: “We have got some experience which is the main thing. Last year we were probably top heavy on youngsters, but this year we have got a couple of youngsters, a few who have missed out but will filter in throughout the year.
“We have a bit more of a balance really, which is the way to go. Just throwing youngsters in isn’t always the best way for them to progress. It’s a good pattern we have got going.
“I can't guarantee success; no captain or coach can. The one thing I can guarantee is that the young guys will get a go at some stage whether that’s down to injuries or if they are pushing hard in the second team.
“It’s a long season and they will get a go at some stage.”
Kent also appointed Jimmy Adams as head coach in a bid to revive their fortunes.
Key, who ran himself out on 97 against Yorkshire, has hailed the way the former West Indies batsman has gone about his business.
“He has been brilliant. I haven’t had a coach come in and raise the bar of what is expected,” he said.
“He’s been a great player himself and sometimes those guys don't always make the best coaches, but this guy has got both. He has got the experience from what he has done in the game and bought that into his coaching. As a coach, he is as good as I have seen.”
Kent enjoyed the better of their opening match of the season in Leeds, racking up a mammoth first-innings 537 for nine declared.
The bowlers then backed up their batsmen with 14 White Rose wickets, only to see rain and bad light end their hopes of a deserved victory.
New-ball pairing Davies, who also struck a first-innings 58, and Shreck shared nine scalps, leaving Key excited about the future.
“We have got to keep Davies fit right the way through; the bloke's been so unlucky with injuries,” he said.
“He was in the England set-up and pushing quite hard; he is very much the (Vernon) Philander mould that the South African’s have got. If we can keep him fresh and fit, he will be a find.
“Charlie Shreck found it hard; it’s hard to recreate that pressure in practice. That new-ball attack has got so much experience and if they continue to bowl like they did in the second innings, then it should be a decent year.”
The only negative aspect of Kent’s performance was their failure to take their catches, with Key refusing to blame the cold weather for their mishaps.
“It has cost us, but whether it is down to cold weather, I don’t know,” he added.
“It’s not been very nice fielding out there; I think both teams felt it. It’s just one of those things. At this time of year, you take the pitch that we have been playing on, but the catching could have been better.”