Good afternoon and welcome to another edition of Canterbury Tales. As we say down here in Kent; good afternoon, how are you? Because in the countryside strangers still exchange pleasantries. Or something like that…

However, less of the subject everyone over the age of 60 seems to complain about, nowadays and more of Kent County Cricket Club. Below is the predicament I left you with, at the end of last week’s column.

‘Who knows what delights we will be celebrating in next week’s column? Will the mighty Kent close out victory against Glamorgan and confirm things? Or, will we be in the middle of a nervy must-win encounter in Birmingham? Or, will we be simply playing for the title, without an inch of pressure in the world? Join us next Wednesday, to find out.’

Well, the answer is none of the above as this week’s Canterbury Tales has arrived two days late. My apologies as I know we were all frantically checking the site on Wednesday, waiting for it to appear. We were right? Right?! But, there’s still plenty to sink our teeth into, so let’s dive in.

Catching Up

As I penned the final few words of last week’s Canterbury Tales, Kent were 93-2 in reply to Glamorgan’s 186 all-out after day one of the pivotal final home Specsavers County Championship clash of the season.

Just to fill you in, if you’re not a regular reader or a follower of my beloved Kent. The equation was simple. Better Sussex’s result and our promotion back to the promised land of Division One for the first time since 2010, would be confirmed.

Our geographical rivals and our rivals for promotion, Sussex, faced the league leaders Warwickshire down at Hove. Both us and they could draw and we still could have gone up with a week to spare. Although, if we couldn’t secure promotion, we needed to defeat the fearsome Warwickshire at Edgbaston, in the final game of the summer.

As Don Henley famously sings in the Eagles song ‘Life In The Fast Lane…’

‘Are you with me so far?” Are you? Good, good, things are about to get much more thrilling from here.’

Now Wait For It…

When I say ‘thrilling,’ I of course, mean thrilling if you’re a KCC fan. For a neutral, the permutations didn’t perhaps reach the most dramatic conclusion possible. From that commanding position after the first day at the Spitfire Ground, Kent, led by skipper Sam Billings, would go onto dominate; securing an early victory. Here’s how they did it.

In that aforementioned first innings, Kentish youngster Zak Crawley would top score with a very impressive 168. His maiden first-class century, helping his county to make a whopping 436.

With all the bonus points in the bag, the win was becoming inevitable. As the visitors, rock bottom of the entire County Championship, came out to bat, already four wickets down. The third day failed to reach lunch as old-timer and personal hero of mine Darren Stevens swept up with five wickets. Aiding us to bowl Glamorgan out for 78.

The triumph we craved had been secured. By an innings and 172 runs. Our fifth in a row on this format. It was now all eyes on Hove, where the match was still going on.

We’re Up!!!

If the hosts weren’t able to secure maximum batting points in their first innings, we would be the first team promoted from Division Two… And they couldn’t!

By the time Kent fans found out that we were going to be playing Division One cricket next summer, it was mid-afternoon. What an afternoon it was!

I for one, had a day off. Not to go to Canterbury to watch us secure promotion (I wish). But as it was my partner’s birthday; for we book days off on each other’s birthdays. I know, soppy tradition.

Anyway, when I found out, I was in the cinema and I leapt up out of my seat in ecstasy! Much to my girlfriend’s embarrassment. Would you believe it, the rest of the theatre rose to their feet in applause, lifting me up and parading me around the complex, cheering ‘Super Kent!’

OK, I made that last bit up. It was a 1:30 PM screening of ‘The Nun’ in Ashford. Cinema was empty, but it didn’t make the moment any less satisfying for me. Oh the joy, the pure unbridled joy!

Who Cares? We’re Still Up!

For the record, down on the south coast and after the game went to a fourth day, Sussex and Warwickshire could only draw. Confirming the latter’s promotion, too. With us and the Midlands outfit now both tied on points, it set up a tasty showdown for the title at Edgbaston. One that was set to go down to the wire. And could end with captain Billings and coach Matt Walker lifting the famous trophy.

For me, the less said about that final match, the better. Billings made another toss error, batting first in bowling conditions. Hence his side being skittled out for 167. The rest is history as the hosts sailed home to win by an innings and 34 runs.

They were the ones lifting the trophy come Wednesday afternoon, with Jonathan Trott retiring. But you know what, who cares? Good for them, well done Warwickshire!

Have your silly trophy, we were promoted before you, anyway, and we’ll get our revenge next season in Division One. The main thing is that, after a long and successful summer, we have been promoted with the joint-most wins in the entire county Championship, 10!

Joey And Sammy Get The Call

For Kent County Cricket Club, the promotion confirmation and the end of a wonderful summer was only part of a historic week. Which saw two players get called up for some kind of England duty.

The biggest was the news that broke on Friday. News that got all Kent fans jumping for joy. The county’s prized batsman and ‘part-time’ leg spinner Joe Denly was to receive his first-ever England Test call-up. Being my favourite player, it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving man than Denly. Who has been incredible with bat and ball this summer, battling back from years of T20 and ODI rejection, after losing his place in the Three Lions’ limited-overs squads, to now get this call. More on him in the next few weeks.

The other was captain Billings. Arguably hard-done-by to miss out on the ODI squad for that same tour, of Sri Lanka this winter. He’ll instead be travelling to the UAE with England Lions for some four-day cricket. Go on Joey and Sammy, go out there and kill it!

Winter Plans

So with that, a fairy-tale summer for Kent is over and there is only the small matter of Friday night’s end-of-season awards ceremony left to attend. What a blast of a summer!

Before you well up too much, Canterbury Tales will be staying with you throughout the winter and there’s so much cool Kent-related content that we will be covering before the start of the new season next April.

There’s one of our very own (Canterbury born-and-bred Denly) touring Sri Lanka with England’s Test team. There’s Billings with the Lions, Kent stars in overseas action and the county’s bizarre tour to the West Indies that seems to be a yearly fixture now, in January.

However, we will start next week by looking back at it all, reviewing the whole of Kent’s magical summer across all three formats. Looking at the delights that did occur and also what could have been, everything! You name it, we will be looking back on it! In the few weeks after that, we plan to bring you specials on a few trending Kent legends. The likes of Denly, Stevens and James Tredwell, before the winter tours begin. You won’t want to miss any of it!

Until Next Time

There we have it, another week and another edition of Canterbury Tales has been and gone. Now it’s that terribly sad time to say goodbye to the readers of HFAL for another week.

Thank you for joining us once again and throughout Kent’s promotion push. It’s been ever so much fun and we hope that you can be with us every week of the winter, starting with the next one. Time to start getting your welly boots and coats on, see you next week!