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Royal London Cup Final: Darren Stevens eyes silverware as 46-year-old prepares for potential Kent farewell vs Lancashire | Cricket News


Darren Stevens played a decisive role in leading Kent to the final with 84 not out in the semis against Hampshire; watch the 46-year-old in action when Kent face Lancashire in Saturday’s Royal London Cup Final at Trent Bridge live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.30am.

Last Updated: 16/09/22 5:04pm

Darren Stevens could be set to make his final appearance for Kent

Darren Stevens could be set to make his final appearance for Kent

Darren Stevens could make his final appearance for Kent when they take on Lancashire in the Royal London Cup final at Trent Bridge on Saturday as he prepares to depart the club after 17 years.

The 46-year-old has helped fuel Kent’s route to the final having produced 49 against Lancashire in a vital group contest followed by 41 against Leicestershire in the playoffs and 84 not out off 65 balls in the semi-final win over Hampshire.

Having not played in the County Championship since May, Stevens is uncertain as to whether he will feature in Kent’s final two games of the campaign.

Kent vs Lancashire

September 17, 2022, 10:30am

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“It will be emotional,” said Stevens on Espncricinfo. “We’ve had too much thinking time this week. I’ve been talking about it a lot and I’ve been thinking about it more than I would do.

“I’ll be a bit nervous but when you get across the rope, you’re back on your job and I’ll have a clear mind on what I’m doing, batting or bowling. It’s hard to explain. It might be my last game for Kent, it might be my last professional game.

“Somebody asked me a while ago about walking out at Kent in a four-day game for the last time. Well, I think I’ve already done that.

“But it was like, ‘say it was the last game of the season, what would that be like?’ And I said, ‘you can’t ask me that question because I can’t answer it.’ I don’t want it to stop but it might be taken out of my hands.”

Stevens had been due to leave Kent in 2019 when he was not offered a new contract at the club, only for a phenomenal run of form including a knock of 88 and a 10-wicket haul against Nottinghamshire in the County Championship followed by a first-class best of 237 against Yorkshire to earn him a new one-year deal.

The veteran all-rounder has repeatedly voiced his interest in stepping into a coaching role at Canterbury, though it appears Kent have elected against taking him up on the offer for now.

“I don’t want to fight any more,” Stevens said of his departure. “I feel like for the last five years I’ve been fighting for a contract where in three of those five years I’ve got Player of the Year, so I don’t know how that actually works.

“It was gut-wrenching and really disappointing and it still hurts because I feel like I still have a lot to give for Kent cricket, on and off the pitch. But unfortunately, the decision’s been made by the hierarchy.

“I’d like to think I’ve still got the fight in me to churn out a couple of hundreds and a couple of five-fors but unfortunately I’ve not been picked in the four-day stuff. That’s disappointing as well, so I can’t really put a fight up. So yeah, it hurts. It hurts.”

Ollie Robinson has led Kent with the bat with 419 runs at a strike rate of 127.20 in the competition, including an unbeaten 206 in the opener against Glamorgan, while Ben Compton has amassed 380 runs at 42.22 at the top of the order. Nonetheless, Stevens still boats a team-high strike rate of 132.21 following his defining role across Kent’s five-match win streak to reach the final.

With the ball, Hamid Qadri has served as Kent’s chief wicket-taker with 14 to his name alongside seamer Nathan Gilchrist’s 11.

Lancashire reached the final thanks to victory over Sussex after a Dane Vilas century, following a knock of 115 courtesy of Steven Croft in the quarter-final win over Nottingham.

Luke Wells is the team’s leading scorer in the tournament with 339 runs at an average of 37.66, with opener Keaton Jennings close behind on 318 at 45.42. Seamers Liam Hurt and Danny Lamb each have 13 wickets apiece.



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