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Cricket: Kent team-mates hail Denly heroics

PUBLISHED: 10:45 10 July 2018 | UPDATED: 10:45 10 July 2018

Joe Denly poses with a cricket bat from the Lord's museum dated from 1869 (pic John Walton/PA)

Joe Denly poses with a cricket bat from the Lord's museum dated from 1869 (pic John Walton/PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

Kent’s overseas stars are lining up to pay tribute to team-mate Joe Denly who continues to light up the sublime summer of 2018 with match-winning performances.

The 32-year-old from Whitstable last won international recognition in February 2010 when, alongside the likes of Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan and Stuart Broad, England lost their T20 clash against Pakistan in Dubai by four wickets.

Eight years on, and Denly’s Spitfires team-mates are now leading the clamour for the leg-spinning all-rounder’s inclusion back into the England fold.

Heino Kuhn, who pipped Denly to win last month’s Professional Cricketers’ Association player-of-the-month award, said: “I see Joe as an unbelievable cricketer.

“I call him the three-in-one player, he’s a great fielder, a very good bowler and a special batsman. When you’re batting with him he makes it look effortless.

“I’m hoping he gets another crack with England because he is in great form. I know England have a lot of quality players, especially in their white-ball side, but with the form Joe is in, I think it would be a great time to get him in there, especially with his bowling offering a different dimension.”

So far this season the graceful right-hander has hit a brace of hundreds in the Specsavers County Championship and, during Spitfires’ run to the Royal London One-Day Cup final, he stroked white-ball tons against Gloucestershire and Glamorgan. His 150 against the Welsh county at Canterbury was the highest List A score by a Kent player.

Added to which, Denly started his Vitality Blast T20 campaign with a 62-ball hundred in Spitfires dramatic win against Surrey at the Kia Oval and followed it with a game-clinching hat-trick bowling his dipping wrist spinners – making Denly the first player in global T20 history to take a hat-trick and post a century in the same game.

Adam Milne, Kent’s New Zealand Test star who has just replaced fellow countryman Matt Henry for the middle stint of Kent’s hectic summer, simply describes Denly as ‘world class’.

Enjoying his second stint with the Spitfires, Milne said: “Joe continues to blow me away, I played here with him last season and I just think he’s world class.

“As a batsman he plays beautiful shots, proper cricket strokes, and his bowling now is just as good. He hits good line and length from ball one and makes the batsmen do something to him [to try and knock him off length].

“He turned the Surrey game with bat and ball [at The Oval] and played one hell of a match.”

Denly will be looking to continue his hot-streak on Wednesday when Kent, unbeaten after two starts, travel to Bristol for their third Vitality Blast south group qualifier (3pm).

Having already witnessed Denly plundering white and red-ball centuries against his Gloucestershire team this summer, T20 skipper Gareth Roderick must already be fearing the worst.

Then, on Friday, Spitfires will welcome Hampshire to The County Ground, Beckenham (5.30pm) where Sam Billings’ side will be looking to avenge last month’s RLODC defeat at Lord’s.

The game is likely to be Carlos Brathwaite’s fourth and final match as locum for Marcus Stoinis, the Australian all-rounder, who scheduled to play the remainder of Kent’s Vitality Blast fixtures.

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