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News

Darren Stevens vows to play on next season after 'gutting' Kent release aged 46

Allrounder eyes player-coach role after setting up fairytale tie against old club Leicestershire

Darren Stevens is misty-eyed after Kent's trophy win  •  Getty Images

Darren Stevens is misty-eyed after Kent's trophy win  •  Getty Images

Darren Stevens has admitted he was "gutted" that Kent decided not to offer him a contract extension and confirmed his intention to play county cricket next season, after helping to set up a fairytale Royal London Cup quarter-final against his old club Leicestershire.
Kent announced two weeks ago that Stevens would be released at the end of the season after struggling to make an impact this year, but after hitting 49 off 41 balls to help them to a two-wicket win against Lancashire on Tuesday, he laughed off the suggestion that retirement is looming, even at the age of 46.
"I didn't think I'd be released," Stevens told the ECB Reporters Network. "I'd hoped it would be down to me pulling the pin on it, but that's not the case. They [Kent] have got other ideas and want to go in a different direction and that's fine. It's gutting, it's disappointing, but that's fine. I respect the club, I love the club and I just want the best for the club.
""I love the game. I wouldn't be playing now if I didn't love it as much as I do, but I love it. I love the challenges of batting and bowling and red-ball cricket as well. I'll keep playing until I think it's right, and at the minute I don't think it's right [to quit]."
Stevens said that Kent had not given him "a proper reason" for their decision to release him but that he could understand the logic. "They've signed Joey Evison, who's a talented all-round cricketer, and I'm guessing that's my spot in the Championship," he said. "He's a good little player from what we've seen so far and I'm sure he'll be good for Kent for the future.
"My job is to take wickets and get runs for Kent, so that's what I'll do until I finish. I want to [play next season]. I still feel like I've got a lot to give. I feel like I'm hitting the ball well and the ball's coming out alright, so I feel like I can do a job for a club somewhere. I'd like a player-coach role but at the moment I still feel I can do a job with the bat and the ball."
He has struggled with the ball this year on flatter pitches, with four wickets at 92.75 in the Championship in 2022 after five consecutive seasons averaging below 20, and had to rush back from injury in order to play in Kent's final group game in the Royal London Cup.
"Two injuries haven't helped me," he said. "Getting a collarbone strike put me out for longer than I was expecting… that was hard to take. Getting back for the one-day stuff, I was pleased and I was ready to go, but then pinging my calf at Glamorgan was gut-wrenching; I've never done a calf before. It'll be three weeks this Thursday, so I've done well to get back.
"You couldn't have written it, could you?" he said about the quarter-final draw, which pits Kent against his old club. "It's a different challenge, a different place to play. We haven't played white-ball cricket there for a long time."
The romantic outcome would be a return to Grace Road next season, where his first-class career started some 25 years ago. Ben Mike's impending move to Yorkshire means there is a hole for an allrounder: have Leicestershire been sniffing around before Friday's quarter-final?
"No, nothing yet," he said, when asked if he had been offered a deal anywhere. "We'll see what happens. We've got a quarter-final to play at the end of the week. If people call and offer things, we'll have a sit-down as the weeks go on and decide, probably towards the end of the year."
He is also an improbable entrant for this weekend's Big Bash draft. "My agent put me in for that," Stevens said. "He called and said 'I've put you in!' I was like, 'yeah, great, cheers.' I think he's put me in for everything. Why not? I still want to play. It'd be good, wouldn't it? It'd be a good way to go out."