County news October 20, 2014

Denly returns to Canterbury

ESPNcricinfo staff

Joe Denly will return to his home county of Kent next season having been released from the final year of his contract at Middlesex following three difficult seasons.

Denly, 28, left Canterbury, the city of his birth, at the end of the 2011 season with the ambition to revive his England prospects at a Division One county. But his career slipped and he managed only two centuries across all formats in three seasons with Middlesex.

He returns to the county where he graduated through the academy and made his first-class debut in 2004. He scored 4658 first-class runs at 35.02. He has also made four one-day centuries for Kent and it was in the limited-overs format where he made his England debut in 2009. But he played only nine ODIs and four T20s, making two fifties, before being dropped.

"It's great to be coming home," Denly said. "As I said at the time, it was a difficult decision to leave Kent but I don't regret the experience I had at Middlesex. I'm leaving a very good club with great people from the back room staff, team and management and wish them all the very best, but now feels like a great time to return.

"There's a lot of familiar faces still here and plenty of talent coming through from the academy and I'm looking forward to helping them in any way I can and help build a successful future."

Denly will rejoin a younger and more inexperienced squad than when he left. But the squad, once again under Rob Key's captaincy, showed signs of promise in 2014, particularly in the Royal London Cup where they reached the semi-finals.

Kent's chairman of cricket Graham Johnson said, "That such a return has been possible says much about the potential of the club right now and is also, in no small measure, a tribute to the way two county clubs can work together for the betterment of the game as a whole.

"My thanks go out to Middlesex in what they have done to make this move possible. To get Joe back is great - he is an extremely talented player in all forms of the game who, at the age of 28, has many seasons to come at a time when his experience suggests his best years are ahead of him."

Angus Fraser, the Middlesex director of cricket, added: "It is always disappointing when the signing of a good player fails to turn out as you hoped and, sadly, this has been the case with Joe. In the three seasons Joe has spent with Middlesex we have witnessed glimpses of what he is capable of producing but, frustratingly, these displays have not come around as often as everyone wanted.

"Joe's lack of consistency gave younger cricketers like Nick Gubbins and Ryan Higgins the chance to impress, which they did, thus reducing Joe's first eleven opportunities. With Joe not getting regular first team exposure, Kent made contact with us to ask whether we would consider allowing them to speak to him about returning to Canterbury. We discussed the matter with Joe and, having thought long and hard about the approach, realised that the move, and the greater opportunities and security it would offer Joe, was the right way forward."