Kent head coach Matt Walker delighted to see his players performing overseas this winter

Kent head coach Matt Walker delighted to see his players performing overseas this winter

Head coach Matt Walker is delighted to see Kent’s players perform overseas.

The English summer may still be more than two months away, but many of Walker’s troops have managed to find form abroad this winter.

Kent head coach Matt Walker. Photo: Barry Goodwin

England opener Zak Crawley produced an unbeaten 54 in the Australian Big Bash League for the Hobart Hurricanes and Jordan Cox is playing in South Africa’s new T20 league.

Kent captain Sam Billings and teammates Joe Denly and Fred Klaassen are at the first International League T20 competition in the United Arab Emirates while opener Ben Compton was in Zimbabwe and Alex Blake impressed in Nepal.

“That’s what you do,” Walker says. “You play competitive cricket – that’s the job.

“Obviously there are times where you have to take a step back and work on some things technically and try to develop your game in the space of an indoor school or in nets. But there is only so much an indoor school can give you over a winter period.

“If you can get out and about, and actually practice and play at the same time, then it’s much more productive for them.

Opener Zak Crawley was in the Australian T20 Big Bash League. Photo: Keith Gillard

“Nowadays, with the way franchise cricket is around the world, there are so many more opportunities.

“It seems a different winter for some of them, playing a lot of white-ball cricket, which is good.

“For some of them, this is the right time for it. It is clear that Jordan has had a real winter of ODI cricket.

“We just have to make sure, when they’ve had a heavy load of white-ball cricket, they manage to get back to the red-ball format fairly quickly.

“But I think, when you play, there’s no substitute for that.

“You learn the game in a different environment and it brings up different scenarios.

“There are different teams you work with, with different ideas and with some really good players and coaches, which is all great for their development.

“I would much rather have them somewhere around the world playing, having fun, enjoying their cricket and learning, rather than being stuck in indoor schools for long periods of time. I don’t think it benefits too many people.

“There is definitely a time and place for that. But if you can get out and get around the world, it’s also part of the learning experience of growing up and maturing and having to work it out a little bit for themselves. This is also important.

“So there were many wonderful experiences.”

Joe Denly is one of the Kent players at the inaugural International League T20, held across the United Arab Emirates. Photo: Barry Goodwin

While Down Under, Crawley worked with Hobart Hurricanes head of strategy and ex-Australia Test captain Ricky Ponting.

Walker said: “I know he was really looking forward to it.

“It will be a wonderful experience.”

Few players have stayed at Kent this winter, but Walker doesn’t blame his players for heading to sunnier climes.

He said: “They’re all playing with the sun on their backs, which I think is a much better way to do it. Go out there, practice and play, and play with different players, in different circumstances, and work with other coaches.

“They all know what they are doing. They all have their own personal individual programs, so they are all going ahead and doing well.

“It’s great and I think the feedback has been pretty good.

“We get to see the guys playing franchise cricket around the world a little bit closer so everyone is busy, which is great. That’s the world we live in now.

“There are so many more opportunities for players to come out and play cricket in the winter – whether it’s club cricket overseas or in a franchise competition. Everyone is playing.

“We now have two players left at the end of January and in February, but a few will come back in early February.

“Come March 13, that’s when we all come together and really start pre-season.”

Bowler Nathan Gilchrist is part of the England Lions Test squad that will play two four-day Tests against Sri Lanka A from Tuesday, while wicketkeeper-batsman Cox is in the Lions’ one-day international squad for three matches against Sri Lanka A from February 15 .

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