Matt Henry occupies an unusual place in the New Zealand cricket playing roster. It's rare you find the Canterbury seamer is not in a test or ODI squad but it's equally rare you find him in the final XI.

Henry is one of a cluster of good quality fast-medium bowlers in New Zealand cricket. Trent Boult, Tim Southee and Neil Wagner hold prime spots in the test set-up, and their numbers show they deserve that primacy.

At 26, he is coming into his prime, a few years younger than the other three, and is next in line with the likes of Doug Bracewell, Lockie Ferguson, Adam Milne, Ben Wheeler and Scott Kuggeleijn, getting the odd chance and looking to push their case for a greater presence.

He's into his first season with Kent in the English county championship and has been a roaring success. In the first three games, Henry has taken a remarkable 27 wickets at a gob-smacking average of 8.6 apiece, top of the charts at this early point.


There were match figures of 7-70 against Gloucestershire, 12-73 against Durham and 8-90 against Glamorgan.

The Duke ball, a longstanding friend to seam and swing bowlers, has helped and Henry acknowledged it doesn't hurt to have that ball in his hand rather than the Kookaburra used in Australasia, but now under threat from the makers of the Duke.

"It swings nicely, especially when it's brand new. It does help you out a bit but you've still got to bowl in the right areas," he said. "But I've felt really good for a wee while with the ball. In these conditions, you've got to bring the stumps into play, bowl nice and full and be challenging people's defences as much as you can."

Early-season conditions have also helped, although the pitches haven't been as green as might have been anticipated, and have been on the slow side. Henry's contract is for seven first-class games, then eight in England's one-day competition, a nice little period which will still leave some time for a break before next summer.

English cricket has introduced a rule where the visiting team can choose to bowl first, rather than have a traditional toss. So far, Kent haven't had a toss yet. They were sent in against Gloucestershire, then chose to bowl at Durham and Cardiff. Henry isn't sold on the idea, which is to mitigate against groundsmen preparing pitches to suit the home county, and would prefer there was a toss.

"You've still got to back yourselves whether batting or bowling to win the game. The toss, it's just part of the game and having that uncertainty or bit of luck is part of it."

Henry has stuck pretty much to what works for him, rather than tinkering much in England. He appreciates the importance of getting batsmen coming on to the front foot.

"I want to make sure I'm not wasting the ball by trying to beat the outside edge, but trying to bring lbw and bowled into play a bit more."


So far, so good, and Henry's loving his time at Kent. He's played nine tests, taking 25 wickets at 46 and has an impressive 67 wickets in 35 ODIs at 24.5. He is the sort of bowler who doesn't let the team down when given a chance. His record shows he gets good batsmen out. Expect another solid push towards nailing more opportunities next season.