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Billings chases Blast title after Kent end Finals Day drought


W

hen it comes to the Vitality Blast, Kent have not even managed to be the bridesmaids.

They won the competition once in 2007, but have not made Finals Day since 2009. Since then, they have lost four quarter-finals.

That means even a player of captain Sam Billings’ experience is making his first Finals Day appearance (although Joe Denly and Darren Stevens endure from the classes of 2007 and 2009).

“There is satisfaction to get past that stage,” says Billings. “The quarter-final has been a hurdle for us, and we’ve been on the wrong end of a few.

“It has been elusive unfortunately. I think that’s just a show of where we’ve evolved as a team. It’s taken a couple of years for the group to move forward and gain the experience that’s needed in those big games.

“That was the difference against a very good Warwickshire side [in this year’s quarter-final, when Billings’ 56 from 37 balls set up victory]. In T20 cricket experience counts for a lot. It’s a matter of quite a few of the younger guys gaining that experience in big games in front of big crowds. The belief of winning consistently has really helped the group.”

By rights, Kent should be Finals Day favourites. They won the South Group, and all four teams – Hampshire face Somerset before Kent play Sussex – are from that side of the draw.

“We are here to win the competition tomorrow, that is what we are focussed on,” he said.

“We won the South Group, we’ve won a lot of games and confidence has come from that. It’s a matter of taking that forward and playing well tomorrow.”

Billings believes Kent have made it this far because of improvements to their attack. With Billings, Denly, Zak Crawley and Daniel Bell-Drummond, Kent have never been short of power.

“It’s a shame we haven’t got Adam Milne, one of the best death bowlers in the world over the last couple of years,” he said.


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