I’m back! Did you miss me? Of course, you did. Yes, it may be Saturday and not Friday, but I’m here to bring you the first edition of ‘Canterbury Tales’ of 2019. What an edition we’ve got lined up!

It may be a new year but I promise you, this is the same old Kent County Cricket Club column. And it will be throughout what is set to be one of the most exciting years in the county’s cricketing history, after the glories of 2018. So without further ado, let’s get stuck into the action.

Happy New Year

As this is the first time I’m speaking to you in the new year, I’m going to start by wishing you all, the dear readers of this column, a very Happy New Year. And of course, especially to the Kent fans who I estimate probably make up 99.9 per cent of the readership.

Let’s set the record straight. We apologise for there not being a column in the last three weeks, but I have to take a rest some time. Think of it as a ‘Canterbury Tales’ winter break. Anyway, shall we forget about it and move on? It is a new year after all, did I forget to mention? And we’re turning over a new leaf.

New Season Excitement

For some, the new year means resolutions and a fresh start. However, for us cricket fans it means something different. Unless, of course, you’re one of a rare breed of cricket supporter who prefers the international game to its domestic form.

As soon as the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve (also my birthday but that’s painfully irrelevant), thoughts immediately turn to the start of the new domestic season. Which is now just a couple of months away!

In fact to be more precise, as of Thursday, a Sam-Billings-and-Joe-Denly-less Kent’s first competitive home match at the mighty Spitfire Ground St Lawrence was exactly three months away. With the club’s campaign getting underway 12 days earlier at Somerset in the Specsavers County Championship Division One.

For die-hard supporters like me and my partner who tends to get dragged along to these things, the season begins on Sunday 31 March. When Loughborough MCCU visit Canterbury in a pre-season friendly. And I for one can’t wait! What will the 2019 season bring?! One can only imagine.

Denly Ready To Go In Windies

Whilst I’m fantasising about the cricket that is set to begin in a few months’ time, there is still cricket taking place all over the world. Some of it concerning Kent in some way, shape or form.

However, previous readers of the column will know that I’ve got a mild (not mild, huge and a big problem) obsession with Denly! So it’s just him that we’re going to be focussing on today. The great man is currently away with the England squad on his second tour in the space of three months. Following a mixed time in Sri Lanka, in the sunny climes of the West Indies.

He and I too, will be desperately hoping that he gets to make a long-awaited Test debut this time around. Having been snubbed and forced to carry drinks for three successful England Tests in November. Denly is also in the limited-overs squads, with those matches starting next month.

Cooling Warm-Ups

Having missed out on a place in the Xl for the Three Lions’ first warm-up match, a draw with the CWI President’s XI at the Three Ws Oval, he has been selected at number four for the second and final practice game. It’s against the same opposition at the same venue ahead of the first Test with the Windies at the Kensington Oval next Wednesday afternoon at 2pm (GMT).

I’m afraid I can’t report in his progress in the warm-up as it has only just got underway at the time of writing. But it will be all done and dusted by the time you read this. So you can check for yourselves. Don’t be lazy!

If you remember right, it was in the warm-ups for the Sri Lanka series that Denly managed to play his way out of the Test side. Starting in both and failing to impress with a pair of flat performances. He will be eager to reverse that this time around and I will have my fingers crossed as tightly as they can possibly be for Wednesday!

No Early-Year Tour

Moving on, many Kent fans may be noticing that this time of year has been rather quiet for the county in cricketing terms in 2019. That’s because something is missing. For the last two years the Kent boys have been over where only one of them currently is, in the West Indies. On what was known as the ‘FSG Plant Tour’ for sponsorship reasons.

This tour saw Kent compete in the Regional Super50, having been invited for the last two years. Although, there will be no third year and no more former coach Jimmy Adams helping the team get in, as we will not feature in the tournament this year. More for them.

However, it doesn’t mean the players not currently featuring in competitions in overseas tournaments or on international duty with their respective nations haven’t been working hard at home.

As well as normal training in Canterbury, they’ve been out and about this week with Olympic sprinter Jack Green (fun fact: I went to the same secondary school as him).

On a serious note: It’s fantastic to see the players getting ready for the new season and ensuring their fitness levels are where they should be for the upcoming campaign. They’re making sure that we’re ready to take it to Division One in our first tenure since 2010, and the other two competitions for that matter! Bring it on!

Until Next Time…

Well, that just about does it for our first column of 2019. In the run-up to the new season and throughout it. And after it too don’t forget. We plan to bring you as many editions of ‘Canterbury Tales’ as possible, so we hope you’re ready for some serious Kent action in the coming weeks and months.

Until next time…