‘It’s a brilliant landmark for me but I’ve definitely got a lot of unfinished business,’ new vice-captain says
When he travels to Northamptonshire for next week’s County Championship season opener, Daniel Bell-Drummond will be just over a month shy of marking a decade as a Kent player.
Bell-Drummond, the opening batsman who was recently appointed vice-captain of the club where he made his debut as a 17-year-old, believes he has plenty left to achieve.
“It’s absolutely flown,” Bell-Drummond said from Canterbury. “I can remember it very clearly, my debut game here against Loughborough Uni in 2011, taking a bit of time off school to come and play.
“Some of the guys get stuck into me about how long I’ve been playing, even [Kent batting coach] Michael Yardy says, ‘it makes me feel young,’ because he’s played against me a fair bit.
“I still feel quite young. I’m 28 this year so there’s still a lot of time left hopefully and I’m looking forward to the season. It marks 10 years but I’ve still got so much to learn. It’s a brilliant landmark for me but I’ve definitely got a lot of unfinished business and I know I can be a lot better.”
A productive winter in which he played for Colombo Kings in the Lanka Premier League – he scored 70 in a losing cause in the final – came after he ended last year’s T20 Blast as the leading run-scorer with 423 runs at an average of 42.30 and strike rate of 154.94. In the Bob Willis Trophy he managed 185 runs at an average of 23.12 with a highest score of 45.
Following the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on the domestic schedule last year, the prospect of a full season, which will include juggling his Kent duties with those at Birmingham Phoenix after he was picked up in the Hundred draft, is enticing.
“I’ve had the least cricket in the last 12 months that I’ve ever had since being a professional cricketer so I should be ready,” Bell-Drummond said. “I’ve had enough time sitting on the sofa. I’m really looking forward to the summer ahead, being involved in the Hundred as well. My main priority at the moment is for our set of Championship games and doing well for Kent.”
On that front, Bell-Drumond has started promisingly, scoring a century against Essex and a fifty against Middlesex in their pre-season friendlies.
A second-place finish in the South Group behind eventual champions Essex in last season’s Bob Willis Trophy has Kent feeling they are headed in the right direction.
They have recruited players at both ends of the experience spectrum, securing the services of West Indies fast bowler Miguel Cummins for the first eight games and on Wednesday announced the signing of 20-year-old Tawanda Muyeye on a three-year contract. Zimbabwe-born Muyeye, an attacking batsman who can also bowl handy off-spin, was the Wisden Schools Cricketer of the Year in 2020, an honour previously won by the Likes of Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler and Bell-Drummond himself.
With captain Sam Billings having linked up with IPL side Delhi Capitals as he continues his recovery from a collarbone injury sustained while playing for England in their ODI series in India, Bell-Drummond is preparing to lead Kent for the early part of the Championship, as planned.
“Having done the role a little bit before while Sam’s been away, I know what to expect and I’ve got some good coaches and senior players around me and keeping in contact with Sam from abroad so we’ve got a plan in place and I’m looking forward to playing my role in that for sure,” Bell-Drummond said.
“It’s really exciting times, there’s a great balance within the squad, quite a few young players coming through who are very hungry to stake their claims, so I’m really looking forward to the year, not just from a personal perspective but from a team point of view.”
Valkerie Baynes is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo