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Tough times ahead for Tredwell at Kent

Tim Wigmore
November 19, 2012
James Tredwell is hoping his new role as Kent captain will not derail his England ambitions © PA Photos
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James Tredwell inherits the Kent captaincy in a very different situation to Rob Key seven years ago. That is not a reflection of Key's success in the job but rather of the changing financial climate.

Kent embody the truth that county cricket has shown itself not to be immune from recession-era problems. Last season's dire weather hit all counties but Kent were particularly unfortunate, losing nearly the entire Tunbridge Wells festival to rain. Losses at the festival could have cost the county £50,000, although financial results have yet to be announced.

But Jamie Clifford, Kent chief executive, is adamant that, contrary to some reports, the financial statement for 2012 is "certainly not going to be the worst in the club's history". He says financial restructuring means that, "Other than the weather issues we're very much on course."

Clifford also credits the response to an appeal to members and supporters to "come and help make a difference" in the second half of the season which Kent issued after the Tunbridge Wells washout.

Nevertheless, there is no getting away from reality. "In a wet summer our gate receipts are way down on what we would expect," Clifford said. "It's been a bit of a setback really but I imagine most counties will be saying the same."

As well as the weather, last season's reduction in T20 matches is another common factor that will help to explain if, as widely expected, county financial reports show a marked deterioration from 2011.

Clifford says five home T20 games per county, as opposed to eight, caused "a big hole in gate receipts" but he declares himself "very pleased with the whole set-up" for 2014, when each county will play 14 T20 matches, something that will help make up the shortfall after what Clifford euphemistically describes as a "knocked-off-course type year" in 2012.

As with many other counties, Kent are undergoing an age of limitations. At the start of Key's reign in 2006 he says he "had the resources" to focus on making Kent a formidable limited-overs side, notably through signing belligerent hitters Justin Kemp and Azhar Mahmood, the county's recruitment policy is now governed much more by value for money.

Canny recruitment policy underpinned the encouraging performance of last season, when Kent narrowly missed out on Championship promotion and the CB40 semi-finals. Experienced players with points to prove, like Mark Davies and West Indian Brendan Nash, combined well with academy players including Matt Coles and Sam Northeast. Perhaps indicative of the era of county restraint, Mahmood left midseason - he could earn more playing in the Sri Lankan Premier League. He will not return to Kent in 2013.

The financial resources may differ but Tredwell shares the same anticipation of national selection that Key enjoyed when he became captain. As Key was in 2006, Tredwell is on the periphery of the England set-up. He took six wickets in his solitary Test, against Bangladesh at Dhaka in March 2010, and bowled with impressive control and nous in ODIs against Australia and South Africa last season.

But Tredwell was left out of England's squad for the current tour of India. As well as the records of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar, Tredwell's omission reflected England's belief that, in his words, "If you're going to play two spinners, perhaps you do want people that turn it in opposite directions." With fellow offspinner Swann the first choice slow bowler in all three formats of the game, Tredwell needs to convince the England selectors that he can be a useful addition - rather than merely a stand-in - to Swann.

Tredwell is adamant he is not too similar to play alongside Swann. "I tend to bowl fractionally slower and change my pace a little bit more than him. I think I get the ball up in the air a bit more in terms of flight, whereas he's a much bigger spinner of the ball. We've got our own ways of getting people out. I tend to entice batsmen to hit me a bit more than him, and that in itself is a very different style."

But if he is to have the opportunity, Tredwell will have to prevent the captaincy from affecting his game. While Key was a consistent scorer in all three forms of the game as captain, he never matched his feats in the two seasons before he was appointed, during which he averaged 70.00 and 59.84 in first-class cricket. For all Key's talent, 10 runs in England's World T20 defeat to the Netherlands have been the sum of his England contributions since he became Kent captain in 2006. Tredwell will hope the challenges of captaincy, made greater by Kent's financial difficulties, do not have a similar affect upon his own England prospects.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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