I like Rob Key.

You might not think that. You might think I’m badgering him on Twitter since I started the occasional Rob Key Average Watch, but I do it because I like him. I’m an adopted Kent-person now (I don’t have a side of the Medway to make that disparity) so I want Kent to do well. The Kent 2nds were at Maidstone the other week, too – if I’d known in advance, I might have wandered along. It fills me with hope that the Kent 1st team might one day end up at Mote Park again, which would be a delight; even if there’s little chance, currently, of them playing Yorkshire if they so do.

The regionalisation of cricket does many things, but for those of us who have moved a long way away from our home counties, it makes seeing our sides quite difficult; the seconds play at Scarborough in a couple of weeks – but following a game between the same teams at Canterbury last season, there’s precious little interaction between Kent and Yorkshire at the moment; a Wednesday game at Canterbury in 2012, an early season one-dayer at Headingly, and another seconds at Beckenham on a Tuesday the same year both came after the two county games back when Yorkshire were in Division 2, for some reason the home and away were sandwiched into April that year.

Anyway. That’s my personal lament. Get Yorkshire playing Kent more often, please. Oh, and Kent? Play your seconds at Maidstone more.

I wanted to talk about Rob Key. Ever since I saw him absolutely incandescent with rage after losing his wicket in a Twenty20 semi-final, I’ve had a bit of a soft spot for Rob. He speaks very well about the game (don’t all cricketers, to be honest – Michael Clarke was a delight during both the recent Ashes series), clearly knows what it’s about. He’s a bloody good player, too. Let’s not forget he was Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 2005, and he’s been a wonderful servant for Kent for many, many years.

That said, he’s played 11 first class innings so far this season and scored 207 runs, for an 18.82 average (calm down, we’re not going too in depth here, I just wanted to rant about cricket a bit and figured I could formalise RobKeyAverageWatch into the bargain). Those numbers don’t look great, but if you consider that 126 of those runs came in one innings against Surrey, and it takes a different complexion.

It gives the ‘Manhattan’ a strange look, but the streamer of average down at the bottom is flying perilously close to the ground. That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t tell quite the story I want, which is an indication of his importance to my adopted county. Having sixteen years of data to work with, I’ve had a bit of a play with his first class innings nad come up with one showing his runs with Kent’s runs (when he played – it would be harsh to count the games he was elsewhere – particularly when he’s spent so long away with England).

It’s difficult to get much of a handle on this season’s figures in that graph, though it certainly seems to show a decline in proportion, so I’ve got the percentage of Kent’s runs that Rob has scored separately. This season’s 8.44% is the lowest figure of his career to date, which is a little worrying – especially when his most productive time for Kent centuries has been May (14).

As I say, I like Rob, both as a cricketer and (what I know of him) a bloke. I’ll continue to keep tabs on him, and Kent, during the season. Hopefully next time I draw his batting out, he’s been flush with centuries and fifties. It’d be good for Kent, good for him, and good for me.