Buoyed by their best start to a Championship season since 1936, Kent Spitfires replace the red ball with the white variety when they welcome Sussex and Middlesex in the Royal London One Day Cup this weekend.
With three successive wins behind them in the four-day format, Kent Spitfires play a three-week block of 50-over games before returning to County Championship action at The Nevill Ground on Friday 26 May.
Head coach Matt Walker said: “Over the close season we looked at ways to improve our resilience and ruthlessness and I feel we’ve achieved that so far.
“In a couple of our games we’ve found ourselves up against it, but somewhere, somehow, people stood up and were counted. The match winning performances have also come from a few different sources, which has been very pleasing to see.
“When we get a stranglehold on a game, especially with the ball, we tend to not let go and that is the thing that has impressed me the most this year. On the field, we’ve been a far tougher and ruthless bunch.
“We face a different format now, but we had a great month out in Antigua during pre-season playing some really competitive white-ball cricket on the FGS Plant Tour.
“Inside the last couple of days it’s been a case of quickly switching the mindset, but we’ve been really decent in this format in the past few years, getting to the knock-out stages last year.
“But we’ll talk about areas where I believe we can improve and once we’re over the ropes I think we’ll see what a confident and talented set of guys we have in the squad right now.”
Indeed, Walker has enjoyed an embarrassment of pace-bowling riches so far this season, to the extent that he was able to rest Mitch Claydon – the country’s fourth leading bowler at that point – for this week’s three-day win over Derbyshire.
“It was simply a gut feeling to leave Mitch out,” explained Walker. “It was a tough decision, don’t get me wrong. He’d taken 15 wickets costing 18 apiece so, looking from the outside in, it probably appeared a crazy choice to make. But the other bowlers have also been impressive, so it was just a gut feel and the best team to go into that match on that pitch.
“It’s tough for the player to take of course, but it just shows the strength of our side right now. Make no bones about it either, Mitch still has a big part to play this season, especially in the white ball games, when he has the tendency to come into his own.
“I think we have a first division attack and we’ve shown signs already this season that we can take 20 wickets against decent batting line-ups and on any given day. It has been a team effort by the bowling unit, the pressure is built up at one end and the wickets follow down the other. Mitch has played a big part in that.”
Tickets for the four-day Bank Holiday weekend Tunbridge Wells Cricket Festival are now on sale.
Pre-buy now at www.kentcricketshop.co.uk to save on gate prices