Ford focused on bringing youth to bear
The Twenty20 Cup has given county cricket a huge shot in the arm, filling grounds with punters who wouldn't have been seen dead at a four-day Championship match. And Kent coach Graham Ford is hoping to give the crowds something to shout about this year.
Launched in 2003, the competition has garnered much publicity. Grounds like Lords and The Oval have been filled to the rafters with cricket virgins keen to get a taste of the game with the fast forward button firmly held down.
Off the field, Kent have shared in this new success with large crowds at Beckenham and Canterbury - but the club have had a dismal time on the park, managing just three victories in the last two years.
There is however reason to believe this season could see an improvement. Impressive form in one-day cricket, in which Kent also struggled last year, suggests the county are likely to be much more competitive than in 2005.
Ford says the team will do all it can to be successful in this season's competition, but he cannot guarantee success.
"We will be fighting for every game we play," said the South African. "We are more focused than last year and we have been practising.
"We are focused on improving the quality of cricket. We have planned for this, but cricket can be a funny game - it bites you on the backside when you least expect it."
Kent, who open their Twenty20 account against Essex at Beckenham on Tuesday, will be without Justin Kemp and Andrew Hall for much of the rest of the season. Kemp has been called back to South Africa for international duty with Hall expected to follow in mid-July.
The West Indian all-rounder Dwayne Bravo should fill one of the vacated spots, says Ford.
"There is a strong possibility that Bravo will be coming in," he said. "He is the type of player that we are looking for, and we are looking forward to having him in the side.
"We have also got a couple of young players that are playing very well - Joe Denly and Neil Dexter. James Tredwell, who has played a fair bit for the first team this season, can also come in."
Ford is keen to build on an impressive recent run of form, which saw Kent win five consecutive games in all competitions before Sundays' C&G defeat to Essex.
He said: "We had a bit of a freakish start to the season with injuries, and we were without Hall and Kemp.
"We have improved in several areas. With one-day cricket, it is something we have been working on for eight months. It has been quite pleasing; even the games we have lost, we have played well."
Ford's two-year contract at Kent runs out at the end of the season but the former South African national coach refuses to say what he plans to do next.
"I have not spoken to the club about it yet," he said. "There are a few other opportunities that I need to consider - but if I was to stay in England, I would want to stay in Kent. I have enjoyed it.