2008 County Preview - Somerset
Somerset are a club on the up and will be expecting big things in 2008 after securing promotion from the County Championship Division Two and the Pro40 Division Two last year. Ably led by Justin Langer, and benefiting from the services of Marcus Trescothick, they emerged as worthy champions of the County Championship Second Division with all areas of their game working well. The top order batting was dominated by Langer, Trescothick and Neil Edwards while Andrew Caddick and Charl Willoughby used all their experience to consistently provide breakthroughs with the ball.
Somerset will be without all-rounder Cameron White for 2008 after the reduction in the number of overseas players allowed, although the return of Ian Blackwell, who missed much of 2007 through injury, and the signing of Omari Banks on a Kolpak should ensure that the hard-hitting Victorian isn’t too badly missed. Banks himself is looking
forward to a three-year stint with the county and is confident of success, although they will have to go some to repeat four-day victory in the top tier of the County Championship.
South African bowler Alfonso Thomas, also on a Kolpak, is another addition to the squad and he will provide useful back up to Caddick and Willoughby, while Peter Trego will look to continue his development that had him close to an England Lions call up over the winter. James Hildreth did get to go to India with England’s reserve team and he is now beginning to fulfil his potential, which is great news both for Somerset and their fans and a full call up seems only a matter of time away.
Although the club enjoyed success in the County Championship and the Pro40 last year, their campaigns in the Friends Provident Trophy and the Twenty20 Cup were disappointing. They showed little of the form that saw them win both competitions in the early half of the decade and will be desperate to put that right in 2008.
Departures over the winter were mainly players who struggled to break into the first team in 2008: opener Matthew Wood left for Nottinghamshire, seamer Gareth Andrew moved to Worcestershire, wicket-keeper Sam Spurway was released, and Neil McKenzie was unable to return as a Kolpak player after being recalled to the South African line up, although he has since signed for Durham.
The only other addition to the squad is Andy Sutton, a seam bowler who has joined from the MCC groundstaff having impressed while playing for the second team in 2007.
In reality, Somerset’s main aims for 2008 are to not get relegated back to the second tier in both four-day and Pro40 cricket, although they are making positive noises about competing for titles and that has to be a good sign for everyone in the club, although if they have half the season they had in 2007, they will have done well.
In: Omari Banks, Andy Sutton,
Out: Neil McKenzie, Cameron White,
Gareth Andrew, Matthew Wood,
County Championship Division One: 5th/6th
Pro40 Division One: Bottom
Friends Provident Trophy: Group Stages
Twenty20 Cup: Finals Day
Star Man: Marcus Trescothick
Top Tip: Peter Trego
By John Pennington