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Matt bats home run

PUBLISHED: 16:14 06 August 2008 | UPDATED: 11:47 12 August 2010

TAKING PART: The cricketers who enjoyed the exhibition game.

TAKING PART: The cricketers who enjoyed the exhibition game.

MORE than 500 cricket fans watched Kent cricketer and Times columnist Matt Walker play in an exhibition game at the club where he started his career.

MORE than 500 cricket fans watched Kent cricketer and Times columnist Matt Walker play in an exhibition game at the club where he started his career.

The game, called "The Homecoming" was hosted by Gravesend Cricket Club at their Bat and Ball ground on Wrotham Road, Gravesend on Monday.

Mr Walker, 34, led a Gravesend XI against the Kent Spitfires, in a twenty20 match as part of his county benefit year.

Kent batted first and scored a 219, with Matt Walker's side just losing after making 211. Mr Walker scored 74 off 30 balls.

He said: "It was a great day, and actually quite sentimental and emotional being back at the ground where I grew up.

"It was a place where I learnt my cricket, a place where I learnt lots of things.

"It was special to see a lot of youngsters enjoying themselves. Gravesend Cricket Club has gone through a rough period over the last few years, but it was good to see the place thriving once more.

"Thanks to everyone involved, it was a great opportunity to see everyone again, at a place that I remember very fondly."

Mr Walker toured Pakistan in 1991 and 1992 with the England under 19 team, and the following year went to India as captain. He made his first appearance for Kent in 1994.

As well as the cricket, an auction was held, with items including a signed Chelsea shirt, a golf day with a professional and signed cricket bats. All the proceeds for the day go to Matt Walker and the Rainbow Trust. Robert Lister, an ex-player for Gravesend Cricket Club and the organiser of the day, said: "I knew he was having his benefit year and I thought a good way of thanking him would be to bring him back to his old club.

"It has been a very successful, and it's great to see friends and family being part of it.

"We were expecting maybe 200 people to attend, but for the support we have got today, it is fantastic."

This Sunday, Mr Walker will playing for a Chairman's XI against Cobham Cricket Club, at their ground at the Landway, the Street, Cobham. Mr Walker played briefly for the club and it was where his father Richard played his first game in 1960.

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