If the win at Essex was a fine and encouraging start to Kent's season, the defeat at Northampton was a more expected reality check. Kent's failings were clinically laid bare by a couple of their former employees. I can't believe there is any other County that suffers quite so much at the hands of their ex-players. Over the past few years we've seen the batting order ripped out by the likes of Ben Phillips, David Masters and even Peter Trego. The bowlers have been summarily dismissed by Matthew Walker, Paul Nixon, Neil Dexter and, yes, even Peter Trego! This time it was the turn of Andrew Hall (who has done it with both bat and ball in the past) and Niall O'Brien. Kent's weak bowling attack had made a reasonable start, but Hall and O'Brien did a real number on them. Perhaps the most damning indictment of Kent's lack of available options is that Joe Denly was called upon to bowl eleven overs (though he did so economically, as did most of the attack). Kent's inability to take twenty wickets will become a major issue across the season, but perhaps it wasn't what cost them an innings defeat at Northampton. I would suggest that most of the fault this week should be placed at the feet of the batsmen.
Kent supporters are fully aware of the fact that the Club has no money. We don't like that, but we have to accept it because things are simply that way, and there is nothing to be done than for the Club to try and recover. However, what supporters will not accept is the most profligate and limp of batting displays such as that on Saturday. Kent's batsmen need a serious kick up the backside. When things are difficult for the bowling attack the batsmen must dig-in and given them plenty to bowl at. On paper Kent's batting is perfectly adequate for this task. What we have is a group of players who know, I am sure, that because of the lack of strength in depth they will almost certainly be playing again next week. The match report on the Northampton website (there is not one on the Kent website - how amateurish is that?) describes Rob Key's batting as "reckless." If the Captain is playing with abandon then the rest of the batting can't really be expected to apply themselves appropriately, I would suggest.
All in all it was a very disappointing Kent performance. I believe we are in for a long and tough season as Kent followers. I can see things getting somewhat worse before they begin to get better. On the other hand I live in hope that the players have had a serious wake-up call and pull themselves together in the weeks ahead.
There will be a further post later in the week as I have some opinions on the early season fixture list and how it affects those in financial strife. Until then...