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Cricket: Kent face Middlesex in crucial encounter

PUBLISHED: 13:31 09 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:31 09 September 2018

New Zealand's Matt Henry (pic Nigel French/PA)

New Zealand's Matt Henry (pic Nigel French/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Kent’s promotion drive in the Specsavers County Championship moves to the Home of Cricket from Monday when Sam Billings’ side take on Middlesex in a crucial Division Two encounter over four days at Lord’s.

With eight wins under their belts, the last three of which have come consecutively, Kent will travel to NW8 with confidence in the camp soaring coming off the back of last week’s 102-run triumph over Northamptonshire.

The win was inspired by Matt Henry’s match figures of 11-114, including a career-best haul of 7-42 in the first innings.

The 26-year-old Kiwi firebrand leads the national bowling averages with 61 wickets costing a miserly 14.85 runs apiece and is well on the way to overhauling Zimbabwe leg-spinner Paul Strang’s 63-wicket haul from 1997 – the best season’s tally by an overseas bowler for Kent since Terry Alderman, the Australian seamer, who bagged 98 wickets at 19.20 back in 1986.

In looking ahead to the clash with fourth-placed Middlesex, head coach Matt Walker said: “Going into these last three games, we have just got to worry about ourselves.

“We have a tough match at Lord’s, against a very good Middlesex team, and with Sussex playing good cricket at the moment and Warwickshire still out in front, it will be an exciting finish to the Division Two season.

“Matt has been in unbelievable form this season and the number of wickets he’s taken is extraordinary. But all our other bowlers have also stood up in support of Matt all season and they’ve all had their moments too.

“Indeed, I reckon there is some Division One-standard cricket going on at the top of this division with everyone fighting hard to win games of cricket.”

In praising Henry’s contribution to the Kentish cause, assistant coach Allan Donald added: “I can’t speak highly enough of Matt’s efforts this year, he’s been a great signing for us.

“When we sat down in Antigua in pre-season and looked through the list of possible targets to bring to Kent, as soon as I saw Matt’s name, I said right there, ‘that’s the bloke we want’.

“I’d spoken to Matt a couple of times before during matches between South Africa and New Zealand and I knew, not only was he a world-class bowler, but that he was a bloody good bloke as well and he’s played wonderfully for us all summer.

“He’s brought with him an international flavour that has rubbed off on everybody else in the Kent side and if you can’t, as a young bowler, learn from Matt’s contribution, then you’re probably never going to learn.

“He sets the standards out on the training ground, that’s where it all starts for Matt, his work behind the scenes, especially with the younger guys, has been priceless. That’s what you want to see from a world-class bowler like Matt and I believe that Cricket New Zealand can be bloody proud of him.

“They have Test match places and World Cup spots up for grabs and Matt is asking plenty of questions of their selectors with his performances over here.”

Following their clean sweep over the East Midlands’ sides with back-to-back wins against Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Northamptonshire, Kent are expected to name an unchanged squad.

Kent squad: Sam Billings, Daniel Bell-Drummond, Zak Crawley, Joe Denly, Sean Dickson, Heino Kuhn, Harry Podmore, Darren Stevens, Grant Stewart, Ivan Thomas, Adam Riley, Matt Henry, Oliver Robinson.

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