Kuhn signed for Kent last season on a Kolpak deal and played a central role in the side's promotion to Division One Getty

Former South Africa batsman Heino Kuhn has been named captain of Kent for the early stages of the County Championship in the absence of Sam Billings and Joe Denly. The Spitfires' skipper Billings was retained by IPL holders Chennai Super Kings while Joe Denly was signed on by Kolkata Knight Riders for his maiden gig at the famous T20 tournament in India.

Kuhn signed for Kent last season on a Kolpak deal and played a central role in the side's promotion to Division One. The 34-year-old scored 780 runs in the season at an average of 33.91 including six half-centuries and a top-score of 96 not-out. The decision to hand a player just one year into the system was up for debate, with 25-year-old Bell-Drummond also considered. However, Kuhn's relatively greater experence - he has also played four Tests for South Africa - was the deal clincher.

"Speaking to Heino, I wasn't quite sure whether he was going to want to do it, having only been here for a year, but he was very much up for it felt very honoured to be asked," head coach Matt Walker said. "It's the obvious choice in many ways in terms of his experience, international quality, the boys respect him hugely, the way he goes about his day-to-day business as a professional cricketer everyone respects very highly, he's a great example in lots of ways.

"I don't think it will raise any concerns amongst the group. We could have gone a bit more of a left-field route and really thrown someone the gauntlet for this small period but I think we're in safer hands in that way with Heino."

Kent have also recruited Australian opener Matt Renshaw as an overseas player for the season. Renshaw is expected to be available for the the first three Championship games and the 50-over One-Day Cup. He is likely to then join Australia's A side for their series in England ahead of the Ashes.

"He's played 11 Tests for Australia, he's had a little bit of a dip in form but he's fighting his way back into it," Director of Cricket Paul Downton said. "We expect him to be on the Australian A tour, he'd like to be on the Ashes tour, so I think he'll be very keen and hungry for runs. He's a left-hander, which in the top order looks very good. He'll probably bat No.3 for us but he'll give us some quality and class in the top order when you're missing Joe and Sam."