The New Number 1

Somerset welcome Indian Test opener Murali Vijay for the last three games of the 2019 season

Somerset have pulled off a bit of a coup by securing the services of the experienced Indian opener Murali Vijay for the last three games of this year’s championship campaign. Vijay who had a very successful brief stint at Essex last year topping their averages with 323 runs in three games at an average of 64. It would be a delicious irony if he was to help Somerset pip Essex this year.

A little research leads me to conclude we should call him Vijay as Murali is a patronymic, “a name derived from the father or ancestor”. On that basis I would be Alfredson Steve, which I rather like!

Vijay of course replaces Azhar Ali who is back in a training camp with the Pakistan test squad, his recruitment almost certainly owes much to the friendship the two have. 

Vijay will wear No1 for Somerset. I rather like that. It is a statement of intent and a sign of confidence in his own ability.

Vijay is a stylish opener who has been described as a n on-off switch of a batsman with the contrast between him being in form and not very stark. When he is in form he flows in a most beautiful and stylish way, when not he can scratch around quite badly. 

Vijay may have to accept that his test career is over after a poor series last winter in Australia. He has played for his county 87 times, 61 of those tests and averages 38 for India, the personal highlight of which was the 2014 tour of England where he was leading scorer in a series India lost 3-1. His test career has spanned 10 years but after his debut in 2008 it took him until 2013-14 to really establish himself at the top of the Indian order.

While he would not want to be described as a red ball specialist his record indicates that he is much happier facing a red ball. He arrives in Taunton off the back of the Tamil Nadu T20 competition (he has not played in the IPL since 2016) where he has been in stellar form with consecutive scores of 81, 78*, 99 and 101. A continuation of that for another three weeks would do very nicely.

One thing that Somerset fans can be assured of, Vijay is a fierce competitor. In a recent interview when asked about his forthcoming stint at Somerset he answered, “When there is competition I enjoy that. I am looking forward to contributing to the team I will be playing for now.”

A contribution that helps stabilise the Somerset top order would be a more than welcome contribution in what could be a momentous month for Somerset cricket. 

We wish him well.