The last couple of days have been the hardest for me since I began trying to write about Somerset cricket. I have always felt lucky that I am writing about something I feel so passionately about and constantly have the touchstone of writing as if I was still talking to my Dad, as we did almost daily, about Somerset cricket.
Over the last few days though I’ve envied the proper cricket writers who do exactly that, write about cricket rather than the team they support. I suppose you could argue that they do this in the case of England but I suspect it is not too difficult to maintain an impartial distance, especially with the current crop.
I make no apology for my emotions, those of you who listen to The Somerset Podcast will know that the current situation has put me in a number of quandaries trying to rationalise my love for county, team and players which seem to be in conflict at the moment.
Take the James Hildreth question. I have nothing but admiration for what he has done for Somerset over the years and in a perfect world would love to seem him have several more seasons of prolific run scoring in all formats. I feel it is almost heresy to be thinking about leaving him out on Sunday but when you look at his record over the last three seasons you have to ask the question.
And this is where another difficulty arises. None of us have access to or knowledge of what is going on within the dressing room. It is impossible to have an informed opinion without it. If you heard our discussion on the Podcast last evening you will know that I left Hildy out of my side for Sunday. I hope above hope that I am proved wrong and that, as suggested by Anthony Gibson, I will get the opportunity on Monday or Tuesday next week to join him on commentary next week and eat a large slice of metaphorical humble pie. I hope above hope I am wrong.
One thing I do know though and that is that this is the time for Somerset supporters to do exactly that. I urge you if you can to get to the ground over the next four days and let Tom Abell and his side know how much we admire them. I have been astonished by the positive response on social media and on the forum, the latter is still open for you to add your comments.
For some reason though I am feeling a sense of optimism. There really is nothing to lose and I hope the negative approach we have all seen over the last handful of games is abandoned and the side returns to playing the way we have become used to and love.
The coach has kept things close to his chest with a sixteen man squad. The most notable inclusion (apart from the returning Craig and Jack) is Lewis Gregory who, assuming all that we have been told is true, will play as a batsman if selected. The most notable exclusion is Will Smeed which in turn indicates to me that Hildy will keep his place. But with Lewis Goldsworthy returning the middle order looks particularly crowded even if Tom Banton misses out.
I’m not going to even try to pick a side, but I’d ask just one thing of Jason Kerr and one thing of the Lancashire hierarchy. In the first instance please don’t ask Tom Abell should to open, in the second please please persuade Jos Buttler to play. Tom Abell has been our best batsman all season and has made the no 3 slot his own. Jos’s homecoming would no doubt add even more to the atmosphere and probably to the size of the crowd.
The last time the two sides met at Taunton in the Championship the game finished in a tie on day 2 on a surface that turned from the first morning. That result effectively put an end to Somerset’s outside chances of overhauling Surrey at the top of the table.
In 2021 our chances are more than “outside” but wouldn’t it be the most somerset thing ever if we put in a performance that earned a maximum point victory and catapulted ourselves back into the mix. I know it is fanciful but that is what a lifetime of supporting Somerset does to you, and I love it.