Darren Stevens wants to play for another year and become the oldest county cricketer since 1989 – at the age of 47! – with a return to Leicestershire on the cards following his release from Kent
- Veteran county cricketer to be released by Kent at the end of the season
- Could become oldest domestic first-class cricketer since Jack Simmons
- Aiming at a return to Leicestershire, which he left for Kent over 15 years ago
Darren Stevens plans to become the oldest county cricketer to start a season since the 1980s, despite his release from Kent.
Stevens aims to play in 2023 when he turns 47, which would make him the oldest player to sign on a county staff since Jack Simmons finished with Lancashire at the age of 48 in 1989.
Last year’s Wisden Cricketer of the Year is currently sidelined with a first-degree calf tear, but started running again on Friday and a successful three-week rehabilitation should qualify him for the start of September and the resumption of the County Championship.
Darren Stevens is released by Kent at the end of the season, ending his 17-year association with the county
If he played for Kent, or even got loaned elsewhere in one of the last two rounds of this season, he would surpass Eddie Hemmings (46 years and 142 days) as the oldest national-level player in England since Simmons.
A return to Leicestershire, the club he left 17 years ago to move to Kent, could be on the horizon and potential new employers might be tempted to offer a player-coach role as he reaches level three is qualified.
And while he hasn’t quite reached the heights in recent seasons, Stevens remains highly effective at the provincial level.
The all-rounder is currently sidelined with a first-degree calf tear and could have played his last game for the province
Yes, his bowling has struggled, on the flatter pitches and after a restraining blow to the collarbone early in the season, but he is still averaging over 45 with the bat in premier cricket in 2022.
Last summer, his extraordinary age-defying performance made him the oldest player in 83 years to hit three hundred in a County Championship season.
His Wisden award at the start was in recognition of him finishing the shortened 2020 Championship season as the third most prolific bowler.
“It’s bittersweet that my time at Kent has finally come to an end after such a long time and where I’m so proud to have fulfilled my boyhood dream with such a phenomenal club. The memories will stay with me forever,” said Stevens, a Twenty20 winner for the third time in his career eleven months ago.
Stevens was told he would be allowed to leave Canterbury in 2019, only to force the club hierarchy, led by cricket director Paul Downton, into a hasty reconsideration of the extraordinary end of the season performance against Yorkshire at Headingley when he hit 237 to better then a run a ball and followed by a five-wicket-haul.
Stevens is targeting a possible return to Leicestershire, which he left for Kent in 2005
This time, however, his departure seems irreversible. Kent recently lured former England Under-19 all-rounder Joey Evison from Nottinghamshire to a three-year deal.
After moving to Canterbury as a cricketer whose percussion was supported by occasional bouts of sneaky bowling, Stevens’ career changed when Rob Key threw him the second new ball at Old Trafford in early 2010.
He had taken 66 wickets in his previous 13 first-class seasons, but the skills and control he showed against Lancashire that day has lifted his career number to 591 with less than 25 runs apiece.