In partnership with the Cricketers’ Who’s Who, here’s Wisden’s profile of Kent for 2018.
HOME GROUND: The Spitfire Ground, Canterbury
ONE-DAY NAME: Kent Spitfires
CAPTAIN: Sam Billings
2017 RESULTS: CC2: 5/10; RL50: 9/9 South Group; T20: 6/9 South Group
HONOURS: Championship: (7) 1906, 1909, 1910, 1913, 1970, 1977(s), 1978; Gillette/NatWest/C&G/ FP Trophy: (2) 1967, 1974; Pro40/National League/CB40/RL50: 2001; Benson & Hedges Cup: (3) 1973, 1976, 1978; Sunday League: (4) 1972, 1973, 1976, 1995; T20 Cup: 2007
All change please – although the courtesies weren’t obvious in the case of Sam Northeast, Kent’s former captain and premier batsmen, who joined Hampshire after being told that he would be reconsidered for the captaincy only if he signed a contract extension.
Sam Billings will lead the side in all formats despite intermittent Championship appearances over the last two seasons due to England and IPL commitments. Paul Downton has filled the new role of director of cricket while outgoing CEO Jamie Clifford is replaced by operations manager Ben Green.
It remains to be seen whether such profound change can shake Kent from their stupor of mediocrity which has left the county trophy-less for a decade and marooned in Division Two since 2010. Losing all-rounder Matt Coles is a big blow and, with veteran seamer Mitchell Claydon winding down, support is needed for the extraordinary Darren Stevens, who took 62 wickets at 18.08 last summer and turns 42 in April.
The outstanding form of Joe Denly – in Championship and T20 cricket – and emergence of Sean Dickson augur well, but Daniel Bell-Drummond needs to turn his huge potential into runs after scoring no first-class hundreds in 2017.
IN: Heino Kuhn (SA, Kolpak), Adam Milne (NZ, T20), Marcus Stoinis (Aus, T20), Harry Podmore (Middlesex), Matt Henry (NZ)
OUT: Matt Coles (Ess), Sam Northeast (Ham), Adam Ball, Hugh Bernard, Charlie Hartley (all REL)
Head coach: Matt Walker
Walker was assistant coach to Jimmy Adams before his promotion ahead of the 2017 season, having previously worked with Essex and England Lions. As a left-handed batsman, he scored nearly 20,000 runs for Kent and Essex between 1992 and 2011, including 275 not out against Somerset in 1996 – the fourth-highest score by a Kent batsman. A year after being announced as assistant coach, former South Africa fast bowler Allan Donald is finally able to fulfil the role after being granted a work permit.
RL50: 6/9 South Group
T20: 9/9 South Group