Qais closed: Kent secure legspinner's signing for Blast title defence

Afghan spinner played major role in Kent's 2021 success

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Qais Ahmad celebrates after taking a key wicket for Kent, Somerset vs Kent, Final, Vitality T20 Blast Finals Day, Edgbaston, September 18, 2021

Qais Ahmad celebrates after taking a key wicket for Kent  •  PA Images via Getty Images

No team has ever retained England's domestic T20 competition but Kent have made a significant move in their bid to do so by re-signing Qais Ahmad for the duration of next year's Vitality Blast.
Kent won their first T20 title since 2007 last year, topping the South Group before beating Birmingham Bears, Sussex and Somerset in the knockout stages. Qais, the Afghan legspinner, played a major role in their success, taking 10 wickets in 12 appearances with a miserly economy rate of 6.65.
Afghanistan announced this week that they are due to play three T20Is against Australia in May-June 2022 but Qais has struggled to break into the national side despite his success at franchise level and Kent said in a press release that they expect him to be available for the whole competition, which runs from May 25 until July 16.
Kent have already announced the signing of Matt Henry for the second half of the county season. Adam Milne was their second T20 overseas player in 2021 and could return to the club next summer, with New Zealand's limited-overs schedule clear until their tour of Ireland in mid-July.
Qais was also part of Welsh Fire's squad in the inaugural season of the Hundred, finishing the season as their leading wicket-taker. His availability for 2022 is unclear with Afghanistan due to play Ireland and in the Asia Cup during the tournament's window from early August to early September.
"We are delighted that Qais will be returning to play for us again for the duration of the 2022 Vitality Blast," Paul Downton, Kent's managing director, said. "Having a legspinner of Qais' quality in our side was a major factor in our ability to contain the opposition's run-rate and ultimately win matches in our title-winning run.
"He is a wicket-taker in the crucial middle overs and had a stand-out economy rate. He's a very popular figure within our dressing room as well as with our members and supporters, and we all look forward to welcoming Qais back next season."
"I really enjoyed my first season as a Kent Spitfire and I'm excited to come back for another season," Qais said. "Winning the Vitality Blast was very special and is something I will always look back on with pride.
"It's a great dressing room at Kent and I'm looking forward to linking up with the rest of the squad again as we look to defend our title."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98