Alexander James Blake
January 25, 1989, Farnborough, Kent
Left hand bat
Right arm medium fast
Middle order batter
There was a sense of deja vu about Alex Blake's 2019 season when his powerful 57 off 38 balls drove Kent to an unlikely two-wicket victory over Hampshire in their T20 Blast match at the Ageas Bowl. Coming in with his side 41 for 4 and needing another 105 runs, he clubbed consecutive sixes off the final over to secure victory with two balls remaining. His knock was reminiscent of the corresponding fixture in 2015, Blake's breakout season in which he slammed 71 off 30 balls with his side 70 for 5 needing 178. It was also a reminder that, despite his best efforts to factor in all three formats, he remains somewhat of a limited-overs specialist.
A dangerous left-handed hitter, whose athleticism in the field is also highly valued, Blake's six first-class appearances in 2019 - yielding 137 runs at an average of 13.70 and with a highest score of 34 - still appeared secondary to his white-ball performance. A fresh two-year contract signed at the end of 2018 will see him remain a one-club player at least until the end of 2020.
Farnborough-born Blake, a Kent academy product, represented England U-19 in ODIs and made his first-class debut in 2008 against the New Zealand tourists but he has struggled to cement a place in Kent's Championship side. He scored his maiden century, against Yorkshire, at the end of the 2010 campaign but 12 seasons after his first-class debut it remained his only century in the longest format.
Blake captured attention with some whirlwind displays in white-ball cricket in 2015 as part of an exciting Kent side that reached two cup quarter-finals and brought hopes of better times ahead without managing to win a trophy. Two more innings stood out besides his career-best 71 not out at Southampton to turn Kent's T20 season: his 59 in 24 balls against Gloucestershire at Cheltenham to secure a last-eight place, and another pulverising effort from a seemingly hopeless position against Lancashire at Canterbury in a losing cause over 50 overs. He resisted overtures from Sussex at the end of 2015 to remain with his native county, but expressed a desire to make progress in the four-day game.
When he made a mark in the Championship in 2016, the headlines told of his capacity for big hitting as he struck the only three balls he received for six, from the legspinner Matt Critchley, to seal a victory at Derbyshire.
The following season saw him omitted entirely from the Championship side, his four-day ambitions no closer to being realised. There was his first List A century to relish, however - 116 from 58 balls with 10 fours and seven sixes - at Taunton but Kent finished on the losing side.
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