Somerset Cricket is Good for the Soul

Royal London One Day Cup, Taunton July 25th 2021, Somerset 299-4, 48 overs (Hildreth 110, Davies 94, Goldsworthy 57*) beat Derbyshire 298 all out 49.3 overs (Baker 3-46) by 6 wickets

I have found the last couple of weeks tough. I’m not asking for any sympathy here, it’s the world we now live in but I have to say self-isolation plays with your head. As does the difficulties of trying to expalin a very simple concept to some people. 

I’m talking of course about those people who simply cannot understand why those thousands of us that have supported a county cricket club all their lives are so violently opposed to the new format and franchises the headless monster that is Tom Harrison’s ECB has delivered upon us.

I do not object to anything that brings in a new audience to cricket, gets it on terrestrial TV or brings more money into the sport. I am not against change or reactionary in this regard. What I do object to is the creation of eight new “teams” and throwing vast amounts of cash at marketing and promoting them when we already have 18 with tradition, identity and followings which could have benefitted far more from the investment. As a deliberate policy the way the ECB has sidelined those 18 in the process potentially jeopardising the future of several. 

In business if you introduce a new product line you still, or at least well-run businesses still, promote their existing products and do not throw all their marketing effort at denigrating what they have already created. 

I also wonder at the brain of the genius at the ECB who thought of the most recent way of alienating the existing cricket follower. The ECB app may have its flaws but it does a pretty good job of keeping em up to date with all the games day in day out. So why, of why, did they decide that the scores from the new competition would only be available in summary form on the app. I thought I’d done something wrong when I tried to see how a couple of the Somerset players had done and instead got thrown to the App Store on my phone and invited to download the app for the new competition. Call me a cynic but doesn’t that smack of a further attempt to alienate the traditional fan base? 

But enough of the negatives. This weekend we have been lucky enough to escape (and I use the word advisedly after two weeks of COVID-related restrictions) to the Lake District for some much needed relaxation. It means I wasn’t able to follow other than snatches of Somerset’s opening game in this years competition but by God it has done my soul good.

Somerset’s performance and support yesterday has equally done my soul good even at this remove. There were of course negatives, Derbyshire should not have been allowed to get anywhere near 300 from 36-3., James Hildreth’s injury is a worry (let’s hope it is only cramp) and the troublesome opening position which Eddie Byrom seems to have been rejected for needs sorting.

But the positives hugely outweigh them. Sonny Baker is a prodigious talent, quick and raw but what an additional he could be to the side in the next couple of years.

Ben Green will be a lead from the front captain and was, many remarked showing real quality in the way he handled and supported his bowlers.

Steven Davies is not only a sublime wicket-keeper but batting as well as he has since arriving at Taunton. He deserved a century and is now such an integral part of this side that he deserves huge credit when you consider he wasn’t part of the title winning 2019 side.

Steve Davies – linchpin

Lewis Goldsworthy’s development continues apace. When he arrived there was still much to do to get the side off to a winning start but he showed maturity and no little skill to see Somerset to a comfortable victory.

Attention now turns to Glamorgan, a two for two Glamorgan who arrive on Wednesday. The task has to be not only to pick up a second win but also to provide further evidence of the support Somerset County Cricket Club has the day after Welsh Fire’s home opener in Cardiff. Somerset remains a fantastically well supported and loved club – and that is further, much needed succour for my soul.

So while Somerset swap the Derbyshire Peaks for the Welsh Hills I’ll continue to gaze and wander the fells and try not to become too Wordsworthian in the process!

Finally, a correction. As Mike Unwin has pointed out to me the format of the One Day Cup quarter-finals is not, as stated in my preview piece, the same as the T20 but instead the same as the 2019 version of the 50 over competition. The two group winners go straight into the semi-finals where they will play the winners of the “quarter-finals” between the second and third placed sides. The winners of the two semi-finals play the final at Trent Bridge. To Mike and anyone else that I offended by my inaccuracy and lack of research I wholeheartedly apologise. But as the ECB knows all to well, to err is human.