HAMPSHIRE'S Sam Northeast has joked he is awaiting another barrage of boos when he returns to Kent for the first time in the Vitality Blast tomorrow, writes Alex Smith.

Northeast was subjected to a cacophony of jeers when he came out to bat for Hampshire in their Royal London One-Day Cup final victory at Lord’s.

And the batsman is again ready to be the pantomime villain at Beckenham.

“I guess I’m probably expecting some more boos!” laughed Northeast.

“On the day at Lord’s, it calmed me down actually. If I get a bad reception then so be it.”

Northeast left Kent over the winter having been associated with the county since he was nine, playing in the first team for 10 years and spending the final two as captain.

The split was bitter and led to the acrimonious scenes on June 30 – where Northeast beat the boos to score a classy 75.

And the 28-year-old has admitted he shares responsibility for the negative legacy of him left behind in Canterbury and feels a great deal of regret about the way he left his boyhood club.

“I think the truth is the departure wasn’t done well from both sides,” said Northeast.

“We probably both didn’t handle the situation as well as we should have in terms of how it all came out – the wrong messages were given.

“The fans have a reason to be disappointed and bitter about the whole move.

“If we had both come out and moved on in the right way then it would have been handled differently.

“It was disappointing at that time that we couldn’t just have thanked each other for the time together, the journey and the memories.

“It felt like me and the board were pushing against each other and when I left there wasn’t anything really put out there and I could have done more to say thank you.

“It wasn’t left in the best place between me and some of the people up top and that has probably fed down to the fans.”

Northeast’s former team-mate Joe Denly is one of English cricket’s most in-form players – with six centuries, including one in the Vitality Blast, already this season.

But while Denly’s batting success hasn’t been a huge surprise, his accomplishments with his leg-spin has shocked opponents – not least his former skipper.

“Joe Denly is playing unbelievable cricket at the moment,” said Northeast. “He must be one of the best players in the country at the moment.

“If you miss your length by a little bit it will go out the park at the moment. He is full of confidence and won’t be an easy person to bowl at in this form.

“He will be a big wicket and how we face him with his leg spin now.

“He always complained I never bowled him enough and he is being proved right!”

Northeast has had a frustrating season in and out the side due to a fractured finger – which kept him out for almost two months.

But insists he is ready to fire Hampshire to more silverware this season and then book his place on England Lions’ tour over the winter, or perhaps the full national side.

Northeast said: “It was really disappointing to get that injury after the hundred at the Oval as I was really hoping to build on that.

“It has been a strange stop start season but I have made contributions in big games like the semi-final and final.

“It has felt like I haven’t really played much yet but there are plenty more opportunities to contribute and hopefully that will help Hampshire win another trophy.

“I’m looking towards the winter and hopefully getting selected for the Lions.

“If I can really go big towards the back end of this summer and lead Hampshire to win games then hopefully higher honours come.

“I was in as good a touch as I have ever been before the injury and if I can get back to that run of form then I will be there of thereabouts.”