Stick or Twist?

Somerset travel to Essex tomorrow with their T20 campaign on the line. The outcome will have a big impact on selection decisions for the rest of the season

Somerset travel to Essex tomorrow for their floodlit T20 Blast game with Essex. A win for Tom Abell’s boys would take them above their hosts and put them on the fringes of a quarter-final place. A defeat would leave Somerset with a mountain to climb in the second half of the campaign.

With back-to-back fixtures on Friday and Saturday at Southampton and then home to Kent we will know by the middle of the weekend whether they have begun the ascent of that mountain or are out of contention. 

We all hope that we are reflecting on three wins and it is the former more palatable option but whichever eventuality the selection for the remainder of the Blast campaign will be determined by those results. If Somerset are out of contention selection priorities will become sharply focussed on the Championship and the visit to Edgbaston which takes place 38 hours after the home game against Gloucestershire. 

I want, at this stage to concentrate on the positive and look at changes that could be made to the T20 line-up to get this campaign back on track. I’m not going to spend anytime debating who should be dropped from the current, pretty settled, side but instead to look at the cases of those who haven’t featured in the campaign so far.

The squad for tomorrow indicates that there will not be wholesale changes for this game so we are going to have to look to the weekend to consider who might be worth a chance. The good news is that there is considerable strength in depth in both the batting and bowling should Jason Kerr feel more radical changes are required. 

The obvious need is to improve the bowling. Josh Davey has, as you would expect, been economical and taken plenty of wickets in the 2ndXI T20 campaign which has been running alongside the Vitality Blast. Jack Brooks has also been performing pretty well in the same competition, but it is Timmy G who has earned a call up after 2-28 in his 4 overs in the second game yesterday and Ollie Sale who will be travelling east.

Josh Davey, impressive in the 2nd XI T20 this season

The omission of Peter Trego continues for tomorrow’s game, but he reinforced his claims to be reinstated with 77 off 39 and an unbeaten 70 off 32 in the two games with Gloucestershire. Steven Davies contributed a 68 and Ben Green a 70 to keep their names in the frame also. George Bartlett did not feature on Monday but seems the most likely to be next in line in the shortest format.

George Bartlett, next in line for a batting spot?

With Lewis Gregory unlikely to be fit and Jack Leach almost certain to be away on international duty by the time the Warwickshire fixture starts I am strongly of the opinion that the focus should be on ensuring we have the strongest red ball eleven available for the 18th. Dom Bess will return from Yorkshire after the first phase of the Blast but who will support him if Edgbaston requires two spinners? RvdM seems the most likely but I’d love to see Max Waller’s white ball only contract amended in time.

The seam bowling will be three or four from the five of the twins, Brooks, Davey and Groenewald. With this in mind I’d like to see some rotation of both Craig and Jamie out of the Blast line up at some point in the next week. In Lewis’ absence both have crucial parts to play in Birmingham.

All of which goes to show that selection is a hugely complex business. But the time is fast approaching when the prioritisation of the Championship campaign has to take place.