Cricket: Overseas recruits Kuhn and Henry look to topple leaders

Cricket: Overseas recruits Kuhn and Henry look to topple leaders

KENT County Cricket Club arrive at the Nevill Ground today [Wednesday] for the Tunbridge Wells Cricket Festival in a rich vein of form.

They are second in County Championship Division Two and now face leaders Warwickshire in the four-day contest with a chance to close the gap at the top.

They have reached their first Lord’s final for a decade in the Royal London One-Day Cup, and will face Hampshire on June 30 in an impressive turnaround after losing their first two matches.

The hero of the hour is Heino Kuhn, a veteran South African batsman who arrived at the club as a Kolpak player at the start of this season.

The 34-year-old batsman has made four centuries in his last five innings in the limited-overs competition, the first player ever to achieve the feat.

Kuhn made 127 off 118 balls in the semi-final at Worcester and Alex Blake hammered 61 off 47 as Kent reached their target on 307 for 8 with two balls to spare in a thrilling run-chase on Sunday.

‘It’s definitely one of the better centuries I’ve scored,’ said Kuhn, who was dismissed with three deliveries remaining – Harry Podmore struck the winning boundary off the very next ball.

‘I’m happy to have contributed for the team, to get us to the semis and to Lord’s. We lost a couple of early wickets and that made it tough for me to get going but Blakey played a phenomenal innings.

‘I was well broken when I got out. It was my job to take us through and to get out at that stage, I was in tears.

‘I said when I signed here that I want to win trophies and everyone in that changing room is the same,’ he added. ‘Come Lord’s, we will be up for it.’

The quarter-final, again away from home at Trent Bridge last Thursday, was a much-more one-sided affair as Kent beat Nottinghamshire by nine wickets with 14 overs to spare.

Kuhn remained unbeaten on 124 from 114 balls, with 13 fours and two sixes, as Kent raced to their target on 257 for 1. Daniel Bell-Drummond contributed 79 to an opening stand of 194 in less than 30 overs and Joe Denly made 52 not out to guide the side home.

June has proved a richly rewarding month for Kuhn, who also registered scores of 113 and 117 against Gloucestershire and Surrey respectively in the space of three days.

Kuhn, from Transvaal, made his belated debut for South Africa against England at Lord’s last July and opened the batting in all four matches in the series.

The other hero of the Kent campaign this year is another new overseas recruit, New Zealand pace bowler Matt Henry.

The 26-year-old is the leading wicket-taker in the longer format this season with 43 victims at a remarkable average of 11.04. The next nearest rival has 27.

Like Kuhn he has not been a major player for his country, having appeared in nine Tests in the last three years, but he is a more regular fixture in the one-day international side.

He has become a crowd favourite at Canterbury, with four five-wicket hauls and 10 in the match in the defeat of rivals Sussex at St Lawrence.

A belligerent batsman down the order, he also added to his growing reputation with an astonishing one-handed catch in the semi-final.

PICTURE: RUN MACHINE: Heino Kuhn has been in prolific form with the bat

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