Kent cricketer Darren Stevens made his debut in first-class cricket earlier than Tony Blair turned British prime minister. 1 / 4 of a century later he reveals no indicators of slowing down. Stevens, 46 later this month, is bouncily optimistic as he prepares for the beginning of his twenty sixth season within the English county sport on Thursday, regardless of icy spring temperatures and snow flurries. The all-rounder, who started his profession with Leicestershire in 1997, has loved a few of his most interesting moments in recent times with each bat and ball.
He hit a career-best 237 towards Yorkshire in 2019 and the next season took 29 wickets at an attention-grabbing common of simply over 15.5 within the inaugural Bob Willis Trophy.
Cricketing “bible” Wisden recognised his feats in 2021, naming him as considered one of its cricketers of the yr.
The ageless Stevens confirmed he had misplaced none of his magic contact final yr — smashing 15 sixes in a barnstorming innings of 190 and later within the season serving to Kent win the Twenty20 Blast for a second time.
So what motivates the Leicester-born participant, who narrowly missed out on successful an England cap?
“The sport itself,” he tells AFP, sitting on a bench at Kent’s Canterbury dwelling floor devoted to his late father, Bob Stevens.
“It is a ravishing sport, it is an incredible sport. For us, we’re classed as entertainers so that you placed on a present. Who would not love placing on a present?
“I am passionate concerning the sport and I simply love batting and I really like bowling.”
Stevens loved a profitable stint with England’s second-tier Lions staff in a 2010 triangular collection towards India A and West Indies A, averaging practically 80 with the bat.
However he by no means obtained a full worldwide cap whereas different gamers alongside him in that staff, together with Alastair Prepare dinner and Chris Woakes, went on to get pleasure from profitable England careers.
“It is irritating if you see lots of people which have performed or are taking part in,” he stated. “It is such as you mirror your self to their job and what they do and it’s kind of irritating however it’s what it’s.”
However Stevens’ sanguine strategy belies a fierce aggressive edge.
He needed to battle his method again into Kent’s T20 plans after he was instructed he was surplus to necessities, proving his value final yr as they beat Somerset within the last.
Though he’s a cult hero within the county sport, Stevens’ identify has additionally been invoked within the debate over the weak state of English cricket after the current disastrous Ashes defeat towards Australia.
Former captain Michael Vaughan argued that success for the 45-year-old illustrated an absence of aggressive edge within the English county sport.
However the all-rounder, who bowls right-arm medium tempo, shrugs off the criticism.
“It would not trouble me,” he stated. “He can have his opinion. Everybody can have their very own opinion. My job is to get wickets for Kent.”
‘Stevo’s gonna get ya’
Stevens could have missed out on a global cap however he’s definitely on the radar of the Australian internationals who’ve plied their commerce within the English county sport — they even arrange a WhatsApp group referred to as “Stevo’s gonna get ya”.
“It is humorous. I performed golf with (Australian Check participant) Travis Head final yr.
“He is a superb mate and we have been on the course and he confirmed me a textual content from one of many lads saying ‘Stevo’s going to get you, ha, ha’ and I bought him (when taking part in towards Sussex).”
The evergreen all-rounder can not look forward to the brand new season to begin, saying he’s “extra buzzy” now than when he was a younger participant.
“As all people says and as all of the outdated execs that coach now after I go and play towards groups and I’ve a superb catch-up with them — all of them are ‘long-time retired mate, do not do it’.”
So how for much longer can he resist the march of Father Time?
“I can see myself taking part in subsequent yr, as a result of if I do not suppose like that my physique will shut down and I will in all probability end tomorrow, so my mindset is I am nonetheless able to play subsequent yr,” he stated.
“In my thoughts there is no motive why I ought to end.”
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