There have been many changes made at Kent ahead of the new season – some reflecting the club’s declining fortunes such as the departure of Sam Northeast for Division One cricket, others showing an intent to improve their performance.
The soggy new campaign begins with a County Championship match in Canterbury against Gloucestershire on Friday (April 13).
The most exciting news is the arrival of Australian all-rounder Marcus Stoinis, who will be a specialist in the NatWest Twenty20 Blast competition.
A star of the Indian Premier League and Big Bash, the 28-year-old is renowned for his spectacular batting – and residents of St Lawrence might need to get their roof tiles fixed a few times this season.
Perhaps the most crucial recruitment, however, has seen legendary South African fast bowler Allan Donald become assistant coach.
He was due to take up a position at the club last season but was prevented from doing so because of visa problems due to the lack of a recognised coaching certificate
England wicketkeeper-batsman Sam Billings has been named captain following the departure of Northeast to Hampshire.
Northeast’s loss will be sorely felt because he and fellow top-order batsman Daniel Bell-Drummond have provided the bulk of the runs.
Both have been tipped for England honours, something which seems ever more likely with the continued failure of Joe Root’s batsmen.
After nine years at the helm the county’s Chief Executive, Jamie Clifford, has left to work for MCC, and is replaced by Ben Green, formerly with the All England Tennis Club.
Graham Johnson, Kent’s long-serving honorary Chairman of Cricket, retired with former team-mate Paul Downton joining the staff in a new role as Director of Cricket.
The 61-year-old former Kent and England wicket-keeper, who attended Sevenoaks School, held the role of Managing Director of the England and Wales Cricket Board in 2014 and was the man who decided to sacked Kevin Pietersen from the England team.
Donald, who has also been handed a role with his national team, is sure to add bite to the attack, with promising young paceman Harry Podmore arriving from Middlesex.
Other new signings include Heino Kuhn, the 33-year-old former South Africa Test batsman, who joins as a home-registered Kolpak player for the whole season.
New Zealand Test fast bowler Matt Henry is available for Kent’s first seven Championship games and the Royal London One-Day Cup campaign, while his compatriot Adam Milne also returns as a front-line paceman.
The new arrivals in the bowling department are much needed following the departure of four members of the attack: Matt Coles, who joined Essex, and Adam Ball, Charlie Hartley and Hugh Bernard, who were all released.
‘I’ll admit that last year was tricky on and off the field,’ says Head Coach Matt Walker. ‘There was no consistency or continuity on the field or in terms of the coaching staff I had at my disposal.
“We were having to juggle things a little bit, but Allan’s arrival this year as assistant coach gives us the experience and continuity we so needed.”
“AD [Donald] quickly brought his own brand of competitiveness into the group, who took on his South African attitude of hunting in the field and maintained high energy levels.”
He added: “I’d like to think we’ve got a better structure to the backroom team and I’ve got a lot more help behind the scenes, which I felt was badly needed.’
‘It feels like we’ve drawn a line in the sand and that we’re starting again. There’s a real freshness amongst the group and there’s a belief that, in terms of structure, we’re slowly getting there.”