MATT Coles is not expecting a warm welcome when he returns to Canterbury to face his former Kent teammates tonight.
The all-rounder, a key member of Hampshire’s t20 Blast attack, has still not been forgiven by some Kent supporters for leaving at the end of last season.
“I’ve been looking forward to this game but I’m not expecting anything too fond,” said the 24 year-old, whose move to the Ageas Bowl triggered an angry response.
“It wasn’t exactly the best but I don’t mind people giving me stick, it’s not the end of the world.
“They’ll give me more when I go back, especially when I’m fielding on the boundary, which has been the case all over the country this year.
“But it’s part and parcel of the game.
“And the funny thing is, I actually quite enjoy it – it gets me going a little bit more!
“Hopefully I’ll get the chance to put my finger across my lips and say ‘Sssshhh!’ But a few Kent members have been kind enough to say it’ll be good to see me.”
Coles’ parents and brother will make the trip to The Spitfire Ground from Maidstone tonight (7pm start).
A product of the Kent academy, Coles played in his home county’s first team for five seasons before making his loan move to Hampshire permanent at the end of last season.
“It was the right time to move on and progress my career a bit more,” said Coles, who has been on the losing side in Hampshire’s last three t20 games at Canterbury.
He was unfortunate to be on the wrong end of Glenn Maxwell at his best in 2012, when his now teammate smashed a phenomenal 66 not out from only 32 balls to light the blue touchpaper to Hampshire’s double-winning campaign.
Coles conceded two of Maxwell’s six sixes that afternoon, as well as the pulled four with which he reached his 22-ball fifty.
Memorably, he had to be pulled away by Kent captain Rob Key during a mid-pitch flare up.
“It got a bit heated, we had a few words which Maxi still reminds me about, but that’s his personality!” laughed Coles. “Keysey’s nickname for him in that game was ‘Postman’ but I couldn’t tell you why!
“Maxi’s come on in leaps and bounds since then and hopefully he can return to that sort of form this time.”
Only spinners Danny Briggs and Will Smith have taken more than Coles’ eight wickets in this season’s t20 Blast.
His clever slower balls have also helped make him the most economical of Hampshire’s seamers.
“It’s been my go-to ball in t20 for the last few years but it’s about making sure I do it at the right time in the game,” he said.
Hampshire will be looking to bounce back from last Friday’s eight-wicket mauling by Surrey at The Oval tonight, having slipped to third in the table with five games to go, needing a top four-finish for quarter-final qualification.
Former Hampshire bowler David Griffiths is expected to be unavailable for Kent tonight, due to a hamstring injury.
Hampshire (from): Vince, Carberry, Adams, Maxwell, Ervine, Smith, Wheater, Coles, Wood, Abbott, Briggs, Bates, Shah.