T20 BLAST PREVIEW: Billings' shoulder injury is a major blow for the county, who look overly reliant on the runs and wickets of Joe Denly
Coach: Matt Walker
Captain: Joe Denly
Overseas: Adam Milne, Mohammad Nabi
Last season: Quarter-final
Kent finished second in the South Division, winning eight of their fourteen matches, including an impressive eight-wicket victory over Somerset at Taunton.
They were comprehensively beaten by Lancashire in the quarter-final by six wickets, despite captain Sam Billings stumping star batsman Jos Buttler first ball.
Sam Billings is out with a shoulder injury
Joe Denly: It’s not easy to break into the England one-day set up these days, but the selectors could not ignore Joe Denly after his form in the T20 Blast last year. He comfortably topped the charts for both runs and wickets for The Spitfires and although he may not have made the most of his England call-up, he will surely be the key man for Kent again this season.
Mohammad Nabi: A powerful middle-order batsman and canny offspinner, Nabi has a wealth of T20 experience. His extraordinary 86 from 36 balls for Leicestershire against Lancashire last year showed exactly what he can do with the bat. He looks like the kind of bowler a batsman can get after – which is precisely what makes him such a dangerous customer. Relying on drift and natural variation rather than extreme revolutions, his economy is a huge plus.
Adam Milne: The New Zealand seamer returns for a third campaign and will once again spearhead the Kent attack. Consistently pushing the speed-gun over 150kph, Milne is effective up front and at the death. His economy was among the best in the T20 blast last season and he will be hoping to better his return of 13 wickets.
Kent are strong in the powerplay. With stalwarts Denly and Daniel Bell-Drummond opening up with strike rates in the high 140s last season and averaging over 30, the Spitfires normally get off to a fast start.
They had the third best powerplay record last year, averaging 55 in the first six overs.
The loss of injured Billings is a huge blow but they will be hoping that the addition of Nabi will compensate.
Adam Milne's pace will be crucial to Kent
Kent’s strength is also their weakness - they are far too reliant on Denly with both bat and ball. He took over a fifth of their wickets and such was his dominance with bat in hand, it’s hard to know what the others are capable of.
He rarely failed, but when he did, like in the quarter-final against Lancashire, Kent usually lost.
With their other star man Billings out through injury, the rest of the batsman will have to score runs more consistently this time around if they are to have any hope of making it to finals day.
It will be really tough without Billings - Denly will have to better his incredible form from last year and Nabi will have to be at his belligerent best.
Strongest XI (with T20 Player Index ratings): Joe Denly (26), Daniel Bell-Drummond (208), Heino Kuhn (330), Mohammad Nabi (6), Sean Dickson (809), Alex Blake (528), Ollie Robinson (1043), Calum Haggett (503), Hardus Viljoen (201), Adam Milne (87), Imran Qayyum (564)
Fixtures: Jul 20 - Somerset (h), Jul 21 - Hampshire (a), Jul 26 - Essex (h), Jul 30 - Surrey (a), Aug 1 - Middlesex (a), Aug 2 - Sussex (a), Aug 4 - Hampshire (h), Aug 7 - Gloucestershire (a), Aug 10 - Somerset (a), Aug 14 - Glamorgan (h), Aug 16 - Sussex (h), Aug 23 - Surrey (h), Aug 29 - Gloucestershire (h), Aug 30 - Essex (a)
For more outstanding county coverage, try The Cricketer for three issues free this summer. Click here to sign up today